Locals in Mizoram claim Assam has been occupying land up to 10 km from the inter-State border
The Assam government accused Mizoram of occupying Assam’s land near the 164.6 km inter-State border as the economic blockade on the roads leading to the hill State continued for the ninth day on Thursday.
Assam’s Forest Minister Parimal Suklabaidya said the people of Mizoram had occupied up to 1.5 km from the border. He represents the Dholai Assembly constituency in Cachar, one of the three Barak Valley districts bordering Mizoram.
“We encourage Mizoram to develop its agriculture but they should do it on their own soil. We have been requesting them to go back,” he told journalists amid the ongoing border row since October 28.
Locals in Mizoram, however, claim people in Assam of “doubtful citizenship” have encroached upon up to 10 km of their land from the border.
Trouble on the Assam-Mizoram border had flared up on October 17 after 20 houses and shops were burnt and some 50 people from both States were injured.
The blockade imposed by Assam-based organisations was lifted on October 22 but was imposed again after Mizoram police personnel, who had allegedly set up camp on Assam land, refused to budge.
The situation had threatened to worsen after a 48-year-old man from Assam died under mysterious circumstances in Mizoram on Sunday. The Assam government said he was abducted by miscreants across the border, but officials in Mizoram’s Kolasib district claimed he was a drug peddler and had succumbed to injuries while trying to escape from a local vigilante group.
The Centre, which has held talks with the top officials of both States, is expected to deploy Central forces along the disputed stretches of the border. Central forces have been guarding decades-old disputed areas along Assam’s border with Nagaland.
Assam’s Chief Secretary Jishnu Barua, who visited the disputed areas earlier this week, said efforts were on to restore normality along the border. Mizoram Chief Minister Zoramthanga has also assured similar measures toward ending the blockade that has led to scarcity of essentials in his State besides leaving many Mizoram residents stranded in Assam.
Mizoram was a part of Assam until it became a Union Territory in 1972 and a State in 1987. The border is not clearly demarcated and structures built by people of one State on the other side of the perceived boundary are often demolished leading to tension.