Mob violence in Assam-Mizoram border has injured at least 40 people with one grievously hurt on Saturday night, a day after a newly founded party in Mizoram moved the state government to settle its decades-old border dispute with the neighbouring state.
Three districts of southern Assam’s Barak Valley – Karimganj, Hailakandi and Cachar — shares 123-km-long borders with three districts of Mizoram – Mamit, Kolasib and Aizwal – of which, the National Highway 306 runs through Lailapur in Cachar to Vairengte in Kolasib via a border gate dividing the two states locked in border dispute since the inception of Mizoram in 1971.
According to locals, a mob armed with Molotov cocktails and batons entered Lailapur region at night under Dholai subdivision, about 43 km from district headquarters at Silchar.
“They attacked the local commuters and beat them. One person was grievously injured and has been shifted to the Silchar Medical College and Hospital (SMCH). They have also blocked over 400 vehicles from returning to Assam at the Vairengte gate,” locals said.
Cachar SP, Bhanwarlal Meena, who had rushed to the spot said, “According to local police there were no hand-made bombs with the attackers but there had been a clash. A driver who was severely injured has however been immediately attended to and is stable now.”
“The attack did not go out of hand and we have informed Kolasib counterparts to ensure things do not go out of hand,” Meena said.
The shimmering anger over the border disputes, that had gone violent in both ends at various times over the last five decades, had gained momentum in the past couple of weeks after the locals of Mizoram alleged that people from Assam had encroached into their lands.
In fact, SP Meena, on that very day of the attack had had a round of discussion with the villagers and stakeholders in Vairengte area, about 46 km away from the district headquarters Kolasib. He had to rush back to Lailapur again after the violence.
A day before the clash, about 122 km away in Mizoram capital Aizawl, a newly-floated People’s Conference Party (PCP) on Friday had asked the state government to urge the Centre to arrange tripartite talks to settle the border dispute between the two states.
In 1994, the police of the two states had almost gotten into an armed confrontation at Vairengte, had the Union Home Ministry not intervened. There was a skirmish in 2006 when Karimganj in Assam had put a signboard on the disputed border and even in 2018, a journalist said that Assam police heckled her while she was reporting a clash between police and Mizo students organisation after the latter had put a shed in the border.
Mizoram, erstwhile Lushai Hills of the then Assam, was separated as a Union territory in 1972 and the borders were demarcated based on the inner-line of the Inner Line Reserved Forest as notified in 1875 under the provisions of Eastern Bengal Frontier Regulation Act, 1873. Mizoram became a state in 1987.