The Assam government has issued a travel advisory asking people to avoid travelling to Mizoram. It has also asked those from the state working or staying there to exercise utmost caution. This, while the two states traded accusations over the deployment of security forces along the interstate border. The development also comes four days after both sides were locked in a fierce gun battle near the boundary that left six policemen and a civilian dead.
The travel advisory, which is perhaps a first of its kind issued by any state government, signed by Assam Home Secretary M S Manivannan said "given the prevailing situation, the people of Assam are advised not to travel to Mizoram as any threat to the personal safety of people of Assam cannot be accepted." The advisory pointed out that there had been several cases of violent skirmishes along the border areas between Assam and Mizoram and claimed that "certain members of Mizo civil society, students and youth organisations are constantly issuing provocative statements against Assam and its people".
It also claimed that it had reliably learned from video footage available with Assam police, that many Mizoram civilians, armed with automatic weapons, remain deployed at the border.
As per ANI Cachar Guardian Minister Ashok Singhal has said, "in video footage, Mizoram civilians are (seen) threatening us and they are carrying weapons too. So we have issued an advisory for the people of Assam not to visit Mizoram. If somebody still goes there, we will not take his/her responsibility."
"We want peace, and have handed over our post to the CRPF, but the Mizoram government has still not withdrawn its personnel from the post, which is sad," Singhal said, a claim backed by the superintendent of police of Cachar district, Ramandeep Kaur, as well.
The minister, who visited Lailapur near the interstate border, assured locals that all measures will be taken by the Assam government to ensure their safety and security and appealed to them not to panic. He claimed Mizoram wanted to settle the dispute by arms and ammunitions and that is the wrong approach.
A defiant Mizoram government, meanwhile, countered stating a large contingent of Assam police personnel was being mobilised at the interstate border. Home Secretary Lalbiaksangi, in a letter to the additional secretary in charge of the northeast, has said armed personnel of Assam police was moving to Dholai and Hawaithang areas in Cachar district, where violence had erupted on July 26. In view of the tense situation at present, mobilisation of a large contingent of police at the interstate border by Assam is quite objectionable, and will lead to apprehension and panic among the people on both sides, she said.
Lalbiaksangi also urged the Union home ministry to issue instructions to the Assam government to refrain from such reinforcement. The Cachar guardian minister, however, said Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma wants the dispute to be resolved through dialogue.
On July 28, during a meeting chaired by Union Home Secretary Ajay Kumar Bhalla in Delhi, both state governments had agreed to deploy Central Armed Police Force personnel in the disturbed areas under the supervision of the Union home ministry. Earlier in the day, Singhal along with a delegation had reviewed the prevailing situation and held talks with officials at the border.
They also met families of deceased constables Manjurul Haque Barbhuiya and Shyamsundar Dusat and gave cheques amounting to Rs 50 lakh each. A Cachar district official has said the situation along the Assam-Mizoram was now "calm and under control".
Meanwhile, the Assam home department has ordered the checking of all vehicles coming in from Mizoram, claiming drugs were making their way from Mizoram which borders Myanmar.
In a separate order, the Assam government has directed the Deputy Commissioners of Kamrup Metro and Cachar, Guwahati police commissioner and Cachar superintendent of police to ensure the safety and security of all persons from Mizoram as well as those staying at Mizoram Houses at Guwahati and Silchar. Mizoram had earlier made an appeal to its people to protect non-Mizos staying in the tribal state and promised them due protection.
Tension along the border with Mizoram in Cachar and Hailakandi districts of Assam have been escalating since October 2020 with frequent incidents of burning of houses and encroachment of land. The two states share a 164.6-km border between Assam's Cachar, Hailakandi and Karimganj districts, and Mizoram's Kolasib, Mamit and Aizawl.
Both states have differing interpretations of their territorial border. While Mizoram believes that its border lies along an inner line drawn up in 1875 to protect tribals from outside influence, Assam goes by a district demarcation done in the 1930s.