GUWAHATI: The Mizoram government has asked the Assam Rifles, which is the country’s oldest paramilitary force, to shift its base from state capital Aizawl to Zokhawsang, some 15 km away.
At a meeting on Wednesday, Chief Minister Zoramthanga had told Assam Rifles Director General Lt Gen Sukhdeep Sangwan that the relocation of the Assam Rifles’ battalion base, straddled across Aizawl’s Treasury and Zodin Squares, was necessitated as the spread-out installation was hampering the work of smart city project.
The meeting comes amidst a “cold war” between the state government and the Assam Rifles over alleged violation of Covid-19 guidelines by the troops and the force’s “boycott” of Independence Day celebration. Last month, a group of 15 personnel had allegedly “barged” into the state without undergoing the mandatory Covid-19 test.
As nearly 40% of the Covid-19 cases in the state have been reported from the Central Armed Police Forces, there is a feeling among locals that the troops are spreading the disease. Earlier, the state government had written to the Centre seeking curbs on the entry and movement of the personnel.
Last year, the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) had asked the Assam Rifles to relocate from Aizawl.
The meeting between Zoramthanga and the Assam Rifles boss was convened, ostensibly to ease out the “standoff”. Zoramthanga is learnt to have stressed on the need for healthy cooperation. He also wanted the force to help check the trafficking of drugs along the India-Myanmar border. Drugs and gold, smuggled from the neighbouring country, make their way into various states in India as well as Bangladesh. Mizoram shares a 404 km long border with Myanmar.
Lt Gen Sangwan also had a meeting with Mizoram’s Chief Secretary Lalnunmawia Chuaungo who had petitioned the MHA on August 24 complaining about alleged violation of Covid-19 guidelines and “boycott” of the Independence Day celebration by the Assam Rifles.