Turmoil in the North East: Assam – Mizoram border dispute escalates

Assam issues advisory against travel to Mizoram; Mizoram files FIR against Assam CM, accuses Assam side of setting up economic blockade

Travel AdvisoryImage Courtesy:indiatoday.in

After tensions recently erupted at the Assam-Mizoram border on July 26, with six Assam Police personnel killed in an exchange of fire, the relationship between the two neighbours has only deteriorated, albeit without any fresh bloodshed. While the government of Assam has issued a travel advisory against travel to Mizoram, the Mizoram police have filed an FIR against Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on charges of attempt to murder and criminal conspiracy!

According to LiveLaw the FIR also names Anurag Aggarwal (IGP), Devojyoti Mukherjee (DIG, Cachar), Keerthi Jalli (DC, Cachar), Sunnydeo Choudhury (DFO, Cachar), Chandrakant Nimbalkar (SP, Kachar), Sahab Uddin (OC, Dholai Police Station) and 200 unidentified Assam Police personnel.   

An FIR against a sitting chief minister is unprecedented, but the move gathered huge support from people of Mizoram. Within hours #supportmizorampolice and #resignassamCM began trending on Twitter.

Meanwhile, the government of Assam has issued an advisory against travel to Mizoram, and the Assam Police have issued directions to check every vehicle coming in from the neighbouring state, purportedly to check incidents of human and drug trafficking. However, their real reasons are lost on no one.

Assam government’s Travel Advisory

On July 29, the Home and Political Department of the Government of Assam issued a travel advisory that referred to “violent skirmishes in border areas of Assam and Mizoram”, especially in three districts: Cachar, Karimganj and Halaikandi. It also referred the outbreak of violence on July 26, that left six personnel of the Assam Police dead. “Even after this incident certain Mizo Civil Society (sic), students and youth organisations are constantly issuing provocative statements against the state of Assam and its people,” claimed the advisory adding that the Assam Police had video footage that shows “that many civilians are heavily armed with automatic weapons etc.”

“Given the critical prevailing situation, the people of Assam are advised not to travel to Mizoram” and that “People of Assam residing in Mizoram due to work related compulsion should exercise utmost caution.”

The entire advisory may be read here:


Assam to check all incoming vehicles from Mizoram

But that’s not all, on the same day, the same department also issued a statement saying, that “during the drive against illicit drugs, it has been observed that most of the drugs were routed through Assam via Mizoram” and therefore, “in order to check trafficking of illicit drugs, it is felt necessary to check all vehicles entering into Assam from Mizoram.”

The entire statement may be read here:


Mizoram’s reaction

To this the Home Department, Government of Mizoram, responded saying, “This will undoubtedly create unnecessary problems and hardships to the innocent citizens of the country travelling from Mizoram to Assam,” and that this order may be “viewed as another way of creating opportunity to harass all vehicles and passengers from Mizoram by Assam police.”

It is noteworthy that just the previous day on July 28, the Mizoram administration had issued a public notice saying that “there shall be no restriction on the movement of Non-Residents of Mizoram travelling through Kolasib district.” It had further said, “Mizo residents are also advised to allow no disturbance and to cause no harm to Non-Locals within Kolasib district,” and also gave out phone numbers of officials to contact in case of an emergency. This was certainly a mature step aimed at maintain peace.

Th entire statement by Deputy Collector of Kolasib District in Mizoram, may be read here:


Mizoram also raised concerns about trucks carrying Covid-19 medication and oxygen cylinder left stuck on the highway in Lailapur ever since the conflict erupted, and blamed “miscreants” from Assam for virtually setting up a blockade. National Highway 306 is virtually Mizoram’s lifeline, and blocking it can have serious repercussions on the state’s economy and also disrupt essential services. CM Zoramthanga, who is currently in Covid quarantine after contact with a Covid positive person, tweeted, “Essential commodities and Covid-19 related medical equipment for Oxygen Plant should never be blocked!”

Mizoram has written to the centre saying miscreants from Assam have removed railway tracks and blocked NH 306.

What happened on July 26

SabrangIndia had previously reported the July 26 incident was triggered at an autorickshaw stand in Vairengte, Mizoram and involved vehicles travelling to and from Lailapur, Assam. Trouble began when a large number of Assam Police personnel including an Inspector General (IG), Deputy Inspector General (DIG), Superintendent of Police (SP) as well as a District Collector reached the area purportedly to investigate alleged Mizo incursion into Assam territory. They faced opposition from local Mizo groups. Policemen clashed with armed protesters, while chief ministers of both states had a war of words on Twitter. While Mizoram CM Zoramthanga claimed that an Assam Police vehicle ran over a local check post of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), Assam Chief Minister accused Mizoram Police of opening fire using Light Machine Guns (LMG).

Brief Background of the border dispute

SabrangIndia has previously reported, the problem stems from an unresolved border-dispute between the states. In colonial times, Mizoram was a district of Assam and was called Lushai Hills. In 1875 a notification was issued that differentiated Lushai Hills from the Cachar plains. Today, three districts of Mizoram — Kolasib, Aizawl and Mamit — share a border with southern Assam’s Cachar, Hailakandi and Karimganj districts. It is alleged that in many places the border is not properly demarcated leaving it porous, thus leading to encroachment. The border dispute talks had to be put on hold due to the Covid-19 pandemic, but intermittent violence has been reported in the region even during the lockdown.

In fact, as we had reported earlier, on October 17, 2020, clashes had broken out in the exact same area when people from Lailapur broke the status quo and allegedly constructed some temporary huts. People from Mizoram side then went and allegedly set fire to them. In the same month, on October 9, 2020, similar clashes had broken out along the border between Assam’s Karimganj district and Mizoram’s Mamit district when a hut and betel nut plantation belonging to two Mizoram farmers were set on fire. Though the area has been cultivated historically by Mizoram farmers, the spot falls in the territory of the Singla Forest Reserve that falls under the jurisdiction of Karimganj district of Assam.

More news from the North East:

Turmoil in the North East: 5 killed as conflict re-erupts on Assam-Mizoram border

Turmoil in the North East: Assam-Mizoram border dispute heats up

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Turmoil in the North East: The demand for Bangalistan

Turmoil in the North East: A Bru Story

Turmoil in the North East: Ethnic divide widens in Meghalaya

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