Assam government said Intiaz Ali Laskar was abducted by miscreants but Mizoram officials claimed he was a drug trader who got injured while trying to escape capture and died in a hospital
Fresh tension gripped the disputed stretches of the 164.6 km Assam-Mizoram border following the death of a 48-year-old man from Assam in Mizoram on Monday.
Officials of the border districts of two north-eastern States said efforts were on to douse the anger triggered by the death of Intiaz Ali Laskar, a resident of Lailapur in Assam’s Cachar district, in a hospital at Vairengte in Mizoram’s Kolasib district.
A statement from Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal’s office on November 2 said Mr. Laskar was abducted by miscreants. The Mizoram government claimed he was a drug trader who was injured grievously while being chased by a local vigilante group.
Mizoram’s Excise officials allegedly found 420 mg of heroin with the injured man, registered a case against him and sent him to a community health centre where he succumbed to his injuries.
“He was a drug peddler from Assam and was caught by volunteers of Young Mizo Association when he tried to hand over the drug consignment to two locals in Mautui Zau forest area in Vairengte on Sunday (November 1) afternoon,” said Mizoram’s Inspector-General of Police (Headquarters) John Neihlaia.
Mr. Ali’s relatives trashed the allegations by the Mizoram officials and said he was a firewood collector and would often venture into the jungles along the border.
Also read: Fresh unrest on Assam-Mizoram border
FIR by Assam police
Bhanwar Lal Meena, Cachar’s Superintendent of Police, wrote to his Kolasib counterpart Vanlalfaka Ralte seeking an investigation by following relevant National Human Rights Commission guidelines applicable in case of custodial deaths.
Assam’s Deputy Director-General of Police (Southern Range) Dilip Kumar Dey said a first information report in connection with Mr. Ali’s death was filed at the Dhalai police station in Cachar district.
“We have asked the Mizoram police to share video evidence of the post mortem and the Centre is likely to look into the matter,” he said.
Officials in southern Assam claim people in Mizoram, backed by their police, have encroached upon a sizeable area in Cachar and Karimganj districts. Trouble began on October 17 after some 20 shops and houses were burnt and more than 50 people injured in attacks and counter-attacks by people on either side of the border.
Discussions between officials of both States defused tension and blockades on roads leading to Mizoram were lifted on October 22 but Mizoram’s refusal to withdraw its forces from the disputed areas led to another round of unrest a week later.
Assam’s Chief Secretary Jishnu Barua and Director-General of Police Bhaskar Jyoti Mahanta visited the trouble-prone border to assess the situation.
Mizos in Assam worried
The Mizoram government has asked officials in Assam to protect stranded Mizos who could be victims of violence as a reaction to the 48-year-old’s death.
“In order to prevent any retaliatory actions by interested parties within Assam especially along the inter-State border, I would like to request you to ensure the safety and security of Mizo communities living within Assam…,” read a message from David H. Lalthangliana, Mizoram Home Department’s Deputy Secretary to Assam’s Home Commissioner-Secretary.
Saizikpuii, the liaison officer of Mizoram House in Cachar district headquarters Silchar, said all Mizos living in Silchar had been advised to take shelter in Mizoram House as a precautionary measure. A few Mizos along the Assam-Mizoram border had fled to Jiribam in adjoining Manipur for fear of communal clash, she added.