Assam-Mizoram Border Dispute Leads to Clashes; Houses Torched, Many Injured

Reported by

Sarup SinhaLand Conflict Watch

Last updated on

January 4, 2021

Location of Conflict

Vairengte Village, Mizoram

,

Lailapur Village, Assam

Kolasib

Reason or Cause of Conflict

Border Dispute

(

)

People Affected by Conflict

101

Land Area Affected (in Hectares)

131830

ha

State

Mizoram

Sector

Land Use

Assam and Mizoram share a 164.6-kilometre inter-state border that runs along Cachar, Hailakandi and Karimganj districts in Assam and Kolasib, Mamit and Aizawl districts in Mizoram. The inter-state border consists of several flashpoints, owing to contested territorial claims, where disputes arise sporadically. Two events, both in October 2020, have heightened the tension along the disputed border. The first incident occurred on October 9 when a scuffle broke out on the border of Karimganj and Mamit districts after two huts belonging to Mizo locals were torched. The local authorities were able to de-escalate the situation, preventing casualties. The second incident occured on October 17. Clashes broke out between the residents of Lailapur village in Cachar district and Vairengte village in Kolasib district. The immediate trigger for the violence, according to Kolasib district Deputy Commissioner H. Lalthlangliana, was an episode of stone-pelting at Mizo residents and police personnel by some people allegedly from Lailapur. He added that despite the imposition of Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code and presence of police personnel in the area, a large mob had assembled to retaliate against the stone-pelting, which resulted in the clash. According to a note released by the Government of Mizoram, seven Mizo civilians were injured in the attack, and makeshift stalls, shops and huts were torched. The current dispute stems from historical reasons. Longstanding territorial claims have been made by both the states since 1972, when Mizoram ceased to be a part of Assam and became a Union Territory. In 1987, Mizoram achieved full statehood following the Mizoram Peace Accord, 1986, which brought an end to the decades-long insurgency in the state. Both Assam and Mizoram disagree on the demarcation of the inter-state border. While Mizoram considers the boundary between Lushai Hills (now Mizoram) and Cachar district – delineated during the colonial times by the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation Act, 1873, - as the authentic border, Assam recognises the 1933 demarcation line between Lushai Hills and Manipur as the actual boundary. Mizoram officials refer to an earlier agreement according to which both Assam and Mizoram had agreed to ensure status quo in the border area considered no-mans land. The violation of status quo has often resulted in confrontation in the past. Mizo officials claim that it was in one of these disputed spots that a makeshift hut, allegedly used by local volunteers guarding the inter-state border, was demolished, leading up to the incident on October 9. Assam officials, however, maintain that while Mizos have traditionally resided and cultivated in the area, the land in question falls under Assams jurisdiction as per records. Parimal Shuklabaidya, a politician from Cachar, told a news agency that such incidents happen in the area every year as people from both sides cut trees illegally. Meanwhile, Lalrintluanga Sailo, an MLA from Mizoram, alleged that the disturbance may be politically motivated. L. Sailo and Mizo Zirlai Pawl (MZP), the apex Mizo student body, have also decried the presence of alleged illegal Bangladeshi immigrants at the border while objecting to the Assam governments inaction. A resident of Varingte village told LCW, on the condition of anonymity, that people in the border areas stay in close contact with each other and though public opinion often differs from those held by Mizo civil organisations such as the MZP, residents generally share their disapproval of alleged illegal Bangladeshi immigrants residing in the border.  Following the recent violence, both Assam and Mizoram have deployed additional security in the affected areas. Mizoram Chief Minister Zoramthanga and Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal also had a telephonic conversation wherein they emphasised the need to make joint efforts for solving the dispute amicably. The Union Ministry of Home Affairs has also begun talks with Mizoram and Assam. Home Minister Amit Shah has held separate conversations with both the chief ministers. On October 19, a meeting was chaired between the chief secretaries of Assam and Mizoram by Union Home Secretary Ajay Kumar Bhalla. The ministry has urged both the states to maintain harmony, abstain from aggressive posturing and ensure steady supply of goods along the inter-state border. However, the opposite happened as the movement of trucks along NH-306 – the foremost supply route of Mizoram – stopped twice because of road blockades. The first blockade, initiated by Lailapur residents in response to the clash on October 17, lasted for four days. Vehicular movement resumed on October 22 under police protection despite attempts by the MZP to impose a similar blockade in Mizoram. After a brief calm, the blockade was enforced again on October 28 by Lailapur residents demanding the withdrawal of Mizo forces from the disputed border areas. The blockade was finally lifted on November 9 after 12 days when the Mizoram government, which had earlier remained adamant, agreed to partly withdraw its forces. The vehicular movement has now returned to normalcy.

Region Classification

Urban and Rural

Type of Land

Common

Private and Common

Type of Common Land

Forest and Non-Forest

Total investment involved (in Crores):

Type of investment:

Land Area Affected
(in Hectares):

131830

ha

Starting Year

1972

Government Bodies Involved in the Conflict:

Ministry of Home Affairs, Cachar district administration (Government of Assam), Kolasib district administration (Government of Mizoram)

Other Parties Involved in the Conflict:

Corporate Parties Involved in the Conflict:

Has the Conflict Ended?

No

When did it end?

Why did the conflict end?

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