Bonhomie after Assam-Mizoram talks yet to reflect at border points

Published on Aug 07, 2021 01:31 AM IST

More than 24 hours after the meeting, people are unable to travel through the border areas between Assam and Mizoram.

A group of people cross the Assam-Mizoram border on foot after authorities refused to allow private vehicles to cross (HT Photo)
A group of people cross the Assam-Mizoram border on foot after authorities refused to allow private vehicles to cross (HT Photo)
ByBiswa Kalyan Purkayastha

SILCHAR: Ministers and high-level officials of Assam and Mizoram attended an important meeting at Aizwal on Thursday to find a peaceful solution to the border dispute, the first meeting between top functionaries of the two states after the July 26 firing. “Forget the past, we have initiated a discussion to draw a permanent solution on the border dispute between Assam and Mizoram. This is a new beginning,” said Assam’s border security minister Atul Bora said.

The two states also agreed not to send their security forces to the disputed areas where neutral forces have been deployed by the central government. Assam also immediately withdrew its travel advisory which asked residents not to travel to Mizoram.

But more than 24 hours after the meeting, people are unable to travel through the border areas between Assam and Mizoram. Central forces deployed along the border said they don’t have permission to allow people to cross over in their private vehicles.

On Friday, many people were seen walking across the state border but no private vehicles were allowed to operate from either side.

Vinay Kumar Saini, assistant commandant, CRPF stopped Carolyne Pachuau, an official in Mizoram’s Kolashib district, when she tried to help a group of people to travel across the border.

“We have orders from the higher authority that no private vehicle without a valid permission from their respective district administration or state government can cross the border at this moment. However, we are allowing people with valid documents to cross the border area if they can walk,” the CRPF official told Carolyne Pachuau.

Vinay Kumar, who is studying to join a public sector bank, said he walked almost four kilometres to cross Assam-Mizoram border. Along with some of his friends Vinay Kumar, a native of Madhubani in Bihar, is trying to reach Aizawl to write a bank recruitment exam.

“We knew that tension is prevailing in the border areas for some days, but we took a chance. The exam will be held on its scheduled date and we are lucky enough to cross even after trekking for more than four kilometres.”

Kalyan Ray, a resident of West Bengal, a construction worker with the railways in Mizoram, said he and 10 other co-workers also walked across the border on Friday afternoon.

“We had to walk a few kilometres from Kolashib district of Mizoram to Assam’s Lailapur to cross the border because vehicles are not allowed to move,” Ray said.

The Mizoram government blames Assam for blocking the road.

“We are welcoming the common people of Assam to come to Mizoram. There is no fear or risk. Even the common people are willing to come but Assam government is using its police to man the economic blockade which is prevailing since July 26. During the meeting yesterday, both the states assured that there will be no blockade, but it is unfortunate that Assam is not keeping it’s promice,” Mizoram chief secretary Lalnunmawia Chuaungo told HT:

Assam officials deny the charge.

Superintendent of police of Assam’s Cachar district, Ramandeep Kaur said officials are trying to convince people not to be afraid to go to Mizoram and plan to conduct meetings with the civilians at border areas in this regard.

“Assam government has withdrawn it’s travel advisory yesterday and from our side, nobody is being stopped to travel to Mizoram. Some vehicles are coming from Mizoram side as well, but on Thursday, some locals attacked a vehicle at Lailapur. In order to convince the people, we are going to conduct public meetings in the border areas, which will start from tomorrow.

The Cachar administration has deputed seven executive magistrates to strengthen security arrangements along border at Khulichera area under Sonai Circle on Friday and publicised their phone numbers so that people who face any problem can call them.

Cachar deputy commissioner Keerthi Jalli also issued an announcement, declaring that the magistrates will take appropriate steps to deal with law and order situation.

On the Mizoram side, people including officials suggest there was a gap between the agreements reached between leaders of the two states and the situation on ground.

Carolyne Pachuau said camps were build at multiple locations such as Saihapui V, Buarchep, Aitlang, Chuvel, Jauphai/Bhairavi, Phainum, Medli, Mamit and Thinglun even after July 26.

“If we look at the names of these places, they all are named in Mizo language. On July 26 Assam police captured our camp which resulted in the unfortunate killing of their six officials. They are still trying to do the same which has angered the common people of Mizoram. It is natural that they will try to save their land from Assam,” she said.

On Friday evening, four vehicles carrying eggs to Mizoram were vandalised in Assam. Local residents said they will not lift the blockade till Mizo security forces are withdrawn from their posts till Vairengte auto stand. Police officials rushed to the spot but did not give any details. A police officer incharge of Dholai police station said they were not sure if the incident was linked to the economic blockade.

Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma appealed on Twitter not to block movement of goods and people. “While we stand committed to protect our constitutional boundaries, I would appeal to our people to allow movement of good to Mizoram,” he said in a tweet.

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