Assam-Mizoram border dispute talks remain inconclusive

Assam's Barak Valley districts of Cachar, Karimganj and Hailakandi share a 164 km long border with Mizoram's three districts of Aizawl, Kolasib and Mamit.
Assam-Mizoram Border
Assam-Mizoram Border

NEW DELHI: The border dispute dialogue here between Assam and Mizoram remained inconclusive on Friday with the latter seeking more time for consultations on a former's proposal of maintaining the status quo of the 2020 position, officials said.

Assam's Barak Valley districts of Cachar, Karimganj and Hailakandi share a 164 km long border with Mizoram's three districts of Aizawl, Kolasib and Mamit.

Following a territorial dispute, there were clashes along the inter-state border in August 2020 and February this year.

At the day-long chief secretary level meeting held at Gujarat Bhavan here, the Assam government delegation proposed the maintenance of the status quo of pre-clash position and subsequent withdrawal of security forces from the disputed areas, officials said.

However, the Mizoram government team sought time for further consultations and refused to sign any agreement, they said.

"We have agreed to certain issues but the Mizoram government sought some more time. We hope to reach an agreement in our next meeting," Assam chief secretary Jishnu Baruah told reporters after the talks.

The chief secretaries of both the states met to find an amicable solution to the border dispute following clashes in Mizoram's Kolasib district which borders Assam's Hailakandi district.

The situation along the Mizoram- Assam border is peaceful now.

Both the state forces are still camping at the disputed area on either side of the border.

Mizoram was part of Assam until 1972, when it was carved out as a Union Territory.

Mizoram became the 23rd state of India on 20 February 1987 following the Mizoram Accord between the erstwhile underground Mizo National Front (MNF) and the Centre, which ended 20 years insurgency in the state.

The border dispute between the two neighbouring states is a long-standing issue that persisted for decades.

Several round of dialogues involving the Centre held since 1995 to resolve the dispute yielded little result.

While the Mizoram government claimed that a 509 square-mile stretch of the inner-line reserve forest notified in 1875 under the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation of 1873 belongs to it, the Assam side agreed with the constitutional map and boundary drawn by survey of India in 1993.

After a massive tussle in 2018, the border row resurfaced in August last year and then in February this year.

However, the escalating tensions were successfully defused after a series of parleys with the intervention of the Centre.

On June 5, two abandoned houses along the Mizoram-Assam border were burnt down by unidentified persons, fuelling tension along the volatile inter-state border.

Nearly a month after this incident, fresh border standoff cropped up last week with both trading charges of encroachment on each other lands.

While Mizoram accused Assam of encroaching upon its land and forcibly seizing Aitlang area about 5 km west of Vairengte village, the neighbouring state accused Mizoram of building structures and planting betel nut and banana saplings allegedly 10 kilometers inside Hailakandi district.

Two makeshift camps erected by the Mizoram Police on the disputed area were damaged by the Assam Police during a recent confrontation.

Officials of Assam's Hailakhandi district administration has said the razing of two camps constructed by Mizos and also a COVID-19 testing centre built by them was part of the efforts to foil Mizoram's bid to capture its land on the border.

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The New Indian Express