As tensions flare up again in the Assam-Mizoram border dispute, let’s take a moment to untangle the history by decoding the dispute that dates back to 1875. Recently as many as 6 personnel from Assam were killed during a clash that broke out at the Cachar-Kolasib region at the border between the two states.
The evident cause of the clash was the setting up of an electric line at the border by the MeECL (Meghalaya Energy Corporation Limited). Reports are claiming that citizens clashed on the border after the Assam police tried to pull down the electric lines.
What happened on Monday?
The Assam-Mizoram border dispute received fresh fuel to flare up and keep burning recently. In another violent clashes between the citizen of both the states, 6 police officers from Assam lost their lives. The violence came just a few days after Union Home Minister, Amit Shah, met all Northeast chief ministers at Shillong and had conversations regarding the resolution of the border issue.
Six jawans of Assam Police have lost their lives in Assam-Mizoram border tensions: Assam CM Himanta Biswa Sarma pic.twitter.com/IG3BwCJJFL
— ANI (@ANI) July 26, 2021
What did the two sides claim?
After the violent clashes, both he Chief Ministers of the states took to Twitter and asked Home Minister Shah to intervene. While Assam CM Himanta Biswa Sarma took to Twitter and claimed that the members of the police force were killed by the Mizoram forces while the latter were “defending the constitutional boundary”.
We are deeply anguished by the loss of lives of our brave @assampolice personnel.
I visited Silchar SP Office and paid floral tributes to the five martyrs and salute their sacrifice. pic.twitter.com/Alj0l9sKmG
— Himanta Biswa Sarma (@himantabiswa) July 27, 2021
Similarly, Assam police alleged that the miscreant elements from the neighbouring state attacked government officials by pelting stones. However, the Mizoram government denied all such allegations and Lalchamliana, the Mizoram home minister claimed that the state’s police forces responded “by firing back” at the Assam police force after the latter “forcibly crossed” a CRPF post.
— Lalchamliana_Mizoram (@Lalchamliana12) July 27, 2021
What is the Assam-Mizoram Conflict all about?
To understand the genesis of the border-dispute between the two states, one has to go back in time where one of them didn’t even exist. This is the period when British colonizers were using Assam as the jumping point to attach territories of multiple tribes to Assam that were in that region.
The Demarcation Following Independence
At the time of independence, Assam comprised of multiple tribes and hence 4 states were carved out from it. These states were Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, and to no one’s surprise, Meghalaya. As history has repeated itself in the past, the demarcation didn’t make the leaders of the new states happy.
What do the people believe in?
Lore and perception states that the citizens of these states were told that they have been deprived of the land that history gifted them and thus, Assam too doesn’t want to give up the rights to the territories, nor the resources it has.
What does the Britishers have to do with Mizo-Assam conflict?
It’s not only the politics of perception that plays a major part in the conflict. During the British rule, the colonizers from the East wanted to conquest Cachar district to grow tea. Over there, they came in contact with the Mizo tribes who claimed that Lushai Hills was their home. After a few violent clashes, Britishers agreed to keep their operations out of the tribal area. Further, they also introduced the Mizo tribes with ‘Inner Line’, a system where they would be protected against outside infiltrators.
In 1875, a notification from the colonizers stated that the Lushai Hills were different from Cachar and further, the colonizers demarcated a boundary between Manipur and Lushai Hills. In the past, the Mizo leaders have argued against the demarcation as popular Mizo consensus wasn’t taken by the colonizers.