Assam-Mizoram Border Issue
On July 29 Assam withdrew a travel advisory asking its citizens to avoid its neighbouring state. It was an aftereffect of violence that happened between Assam and Mizoram. A gun battle took place on 26th July 2021 between both state’s police forces. The clash happened just after the visit of home minister Amit Shah, during which he met all the chief ministers of the region in Shillong and asked them to resolve inter-state border disputes. As this was not the first incident, the last time the boundary saw violence was in October 2020. But for the first time police from two states were part of this.
Peace is not the absence of conflicts, it is the ability to handle conflict by peaceful means. – Ronald Reagan
All wars signify the failure of conflict resolution mechanisms, and they need post-war rebuilding of faith, trust and confidence. – Abdul Kalam
STATISTICS – What Numbers have to Say?
- Assam and Mizoram share a border of 165 km
- The 1318 sq km area of hills and forests is under dispute
- The border dispute is active for the last 150 years
DESCRIPTION – Let’s take a Deep Dive
The conflict has been triggered by a quest for rights over land and forest. The Inner Line Reserve Forest and the natural boundary between Assam and Mizoram were at the heart of the current dispute. But there are also few historical events due to which these conflicts began.
History of Assam-Mizoram Conflict
- Border issue between Assam and Mizoram has existed before the formation of Mizoram as a union territory and it continued even after in 1987 it became a state.
- Both the states signed an agreement in which it was mentioned that they will maintain a status quo and establish a no-man land.
- On 20 August 1875, Lushai hills (present Mizoram) was differentiated from the plains of Cachar in Assam’s Barak Valley.
- Then 1933 separation labelled a boundary between Lushai Hills and Manipur, starting from the tri-junction of Lushai Hills, Cachar district and Manipur.
- ‘Marking was done without consulting the chief of Mizoram’, by stating that Mizoram people refused to accept the marking.
- In 2018, Assam police and forest department officials burned the wooden rest house built by the students of Mizoram for the farmers. And after this few clashes took place between MZP members and the Assam police.
What happened in October 2020:
- Villagers from Assam’s Cachar district clashed with people near Vairengte in Mizoram’s Kolasib district, on October 9.
- On the same day, two farm huts and a betel nut plantation belonging to the Mizoram residents were set aflame.
- Some people from Lailapur bombarded Mizoram police personnel and Mizoram residents with stones.
- One of the Members of the Mizoram Legislative Assembly stated that “according to an agreement between governments of Assam and Mizoram some years ago, the condition of no man’s land in the border area should be maintained. But, the people from Lailapur broke the condition and constructed some temporary huts. So, People from the Mizoram side set fire on them.”
- But the Deputy Commissioner of Cachar had told that the land belongs to Assam as per the state’s records.
The reason behind the 26 July incident:
- The Assam government claimed that Mizoram started destroying the Inner Line Reserve Forest in the Lailapur area to construct a road from Vairengte towards Rengti Basti in Assam,. And to defuse the situation and resolve the matter, Assam police officers had gone there.
- On the other hand, Mizoram home minister Lalchamliana said that the Assam police set fire on Mizoram’s territory.
- Also according to the Mizoram government, the illegal immigrants from Bangladesh are trying to snitch their land and the Assam government is supporting them.
- But the Assam government denied this by saying that they want to protect the forest and not allowing any settlement there. And they continued this by stating that Mizo farmers are trying to occupy the forest land of Assam.
- While the allegation between two states continued on the border between Lailapur village in Assam’s Cachar district and Vairengte in Mizoram’s Kolasib district the tragic state of affairs happened.
Apart from the Assam-Mizoram border dispute, there are many border disputes present in India. One of them is the Maharashtra-Karnataka border dispute over the Belgaum district.
Maharashtra and Karnataka border dispute
- Belgaum which is a district in Karnataka has always been the reason for the dispute between Maharashtra and Karnataka.
- Originally Belgaum was part of the Bombay Presidency which was a multi-lingual province.
- But after independence the States Reorganisation Act of 1956, made Belgaum part of Mysore state (Karnataka).
- The State Reorganisation Act of 1956 divided states on the basis of linguistic and administrative lines and at that time approximately 64% of people were Kannada speaking and 24% were Marathi speaking.
- Maharashtra government rejected this separation and this led to the formation of the Mahajan Commission in 1966.
- This commission again gave the same report. But again Maharashtra government rejected it and filed a petition in the Supreme court staking claim over Belgaum.
- And from there the dispute is still going on.
The incident was very unfortunate. Rather than supporting such activities both the Assam and Mizoram governments should take some steps to create a peaceful environment. This problem can be solved by mainly two ways: the first one is by the intervention of the central government and the second by forming a boundary commission. But the second solution may not solve the problem. Because in history some boundary commissions were formed to resolve the boundary problem between two states but the state government didn’t accept the recommendation by the commission.
So to solve this problem both the state governments should come forward and discuss the solutions. And the first step has been taken by the governments when they both agreed to withdraw the force from all disputed border areas and agreed on working for a feeling of permanent peace in the first meeting after the incident.
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Author – Vaishnavi Guntoorkar