by Prerna Sharma
About the Incident
Intervening 25-26 July 2021, clashes were reported between residents of Vairengte and Lailapur on the borders of Assam and Mizoram due to an alleged border dispute. This triggered valuable life loss and destruction. Five Assam police personnel were killed on the spot and approximately 50 civilians and police personnel were injured. No fatal casualties were reported on the Mizoram side. A few huts were also gutted.
Consistent history of clashes exists between the residents of Lailapur, District Karimganj, Assam and Vairengte, District Kolasib Mizoram.
Developments Leading to Incident
The tension started brewing on 30 June 2021 between the populations of both states residing in Districts of Cachar, Assam and Kolasib, Mizoram on Assam-Mizoram border resulting in clashes. Accusations and counter accusations continued. Mizoram populace blamed Assamese of encroaching upon its land in the Kolasib while residents of Assam in turn attributed Mizos of illegal constructions and practicing agriculture on their resources. Residents of Assam also contended that Mizos had carried out similar activities inside Hailakandi District of Assam which also borders Mizoram and requested Assam police to intervene. Tension amplified and suspecting trouble, high-ranking Assam officials arrived to the scene. On the 10 July 21, reports emerged that Assam officials conducted an eviction drive in Khulicherra, Assam where residents of Mizoram had earlier entered.
Bengal eastern Frontier Regulations (BEFR) of 1873
Assam and Mizoram share a boundary of about 164.5 Kms. The region was under the control of British who had set the boundaries between the Lushai hills, Mizoram and Cachar hills, Assam on the basis of Inner-line permit regulations (ILP) notification. It was published on 27 August 1873, as Bengal eastern Frontier Regulations (BEFR) and came into force on 01 November 1873. Over the period of time, while all states have done away with ILP, Mizoram continues practice it. It is an irony the own country citizens have to apply for Inner Line Permit (ILP) whereas with Myanmar, the state applies the provisions of Free Move Regime to promote local trade.
North East Reorganization Act, 1971
The Act resulted in formation of:
Tripura and Manipur states from Union Territories.
State of Meghalaya.
Union territories of Mizoram and Arunachal Pradesh.
All the separated entities & states were created based on history and tribal affiliations. The differences started to crop up later. Mizoram attained a full statehood in 1987 through implementation of Mizoram accord and backed BEFR 1873 with the inner line of the Lushai hills, Mizoram. There have been several rounds of talks between the officials of the Assam and Mizoram states but to no avail. Numerous attempts were made to resolve the boundary disputes, but it remains under stalemate as both the states are not willing to give up their territorial claims.
Interstate boundary disputes are a concern in northeast region, especially in Assam as the state shares boundaries with Bengal, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Manipur, Mizoram, Meghalaya and Tripura. Endless stories of claims and counter-claims along tribal fault lines run in the region. Additionally, Assam shares International Boundary with Bhutan and Bangladesh also, thus becoming one the most important states of our country.
With criminal activities and insurgencies being rooted out of northeast, it is just a matter of time when all such border disputes will steady. With not so accurate maps of the region, Satellite mapping of contested areas could turn out to be the most viable option.
Till the solution is finally arrived, it will be prudent to deploy the Central Police forces in contested areas to maintain peace.
It is for the local administrators to ensure that the rule of the law prevails and they, at the same time not get swayed by the populist beliefs.
To be continued...
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