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Assam & Mizoram Police stay put at disputed border

Assam & Mizoram Police  stay put at disputed border
Bullet holes at one of the three posts of the Mizoram Police. Photo -Praveen Jain.
New Delhi, AUG 13 (AGENCIES) | Publish Date: 8/13/2021 11:32:08 AM IST

It is more than two weeks since an interim agreement was reached between Assam and Mizoram on state police vacating the disputed Lailapur-Vairengte border area, but the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) is nowhere near taking complete charge of the area, ThePrint has learnt.

With neither of the sides ready to retract from their positions since the police forces of the two states clashed on 26 July, the CRPF will now write to the Ministry of Home Affairs, seeking their intervention, sources in the force told ThePrint. The CRPF was expected to completely take over the area of the disputed stretch from both sides — Assam and Mizoram — latest by 13 August, the source said. “Efforts are being made at the highest level to ensure that both states leave their posts and retract, but that is not happening. The CRPF takeover of the disputed stretch from both sides has not happened since neither of the parties is ready to vacate, despite clear instructions,” a source in the CRPF said. “We will now inform the Ministry of Home Affairs for the next course of action and seek their intervention,” the source added.

The violent clash had led to the deaths of six Assam Police personnel on 28 July following which a meeting had been called by Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla to mediate between the two states. Assam DGP Bhaskar Jyoti Mahanta, Assam Chief Secretary Jishnu Baruah and Mizoram DGP S.B.K. Singh and Mizoram Chief Secretary Lalnunmawia Chuaungo along with CRPF DG Kuldiep Singh were part of the meeting. The meeting had concluded with both states agreeing to withdraw their personnel from the disputed stretch and treat it as a no-man’s land, to be taken over by the CRPF, till a permanent solution is reached. ThePrint reached the spokesperson of the Ministry of Home Affairs to comment on the further course of action, but did not get a response till the time of publishing this report.

‘Not sure about the agreement or what was decided in Delhi’

The way ahead is still not clear with both state police not giving a clear answer on the retraction plan. Speaking to ThePrint, SP Kolasib, Mizoram police, Vanlalfaka Ralte said his team would move after getting “clear instructions from higher-ups”. 

“There are no instructions to us to vacate the IRB post and move back from state authorities. I am not sure about the agreement or what was decided in Delhi. The situation in the area is peaceful. Some talks between the states are on, but we have not been given any clear instructions to vacate till now,” Ralte said.

SP, Cachar, of Assam Police, Ramandeep Kaur, however, said they had moved 200 m away from the clash point, but Mizoram police have not “budged even an inch”.

Origins of the dispute

Tension had been brewing here since October last year when 20 temporary bamboo huts constructed along NH 306 by Assamese villages were allegedly burnt down by those from Mizoram. It was followed by clashes between the villagers of Lailapur and Vairengte.

Mizoram Police had built two 16X32 feet posts to deploy its personnel in the disputed area. Barely 60 m from the posts, the Assam Police also built a border post.

While Mizoram claims all of its three posts fall in Vairengte, Assam believes they come under Rengti Basti, an inner-land forest reserve area within its boundaries.

The situation finally came to a head at 11 am on 26 July when around 250 people from Assam landed up at the site, asking Mizoram police to vacate the post.

The face-off quickly escalated and within the hour, heated negotiations would turn to heckling, vandalism, and tear gas shells before culminating in a military-style ambush that left six Assam Police personnel dead.

“The Mizoram police is still deployed at the post which is an illegal post as it has been made on the inner line forest reserve land which falls within the territory of Assam. After the clash, we did vacate, retracted for 200 meters, but now they must leave first, and only then will we retract or vacate any further,” she said.

“Not just this one post, Mizoram police has two more such posts right at the border on a hillock, which they need to vacate. They ought to make the first move now,” she added.

 

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