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EDUindex News

reason behind the dispute

                THE UNSETTLED DISPUTE 
By : Neha Shahab

The boundary dispute between Assam and Mizoram dates back nearly a century and a half. Monday, as firing on the inter-state boundary left at least six Assam policemen dead and over 50 individuals injured. Mizoram borders Assam’s Barak Valley, and both border Bangladesh. The boundary between the two states, which runs 165 km today, has a history dating back to the time when Mizoram was a district of Assam and known as Lushai Hills. Boundary demarcations in 1875 and 1933, particularly the second one, are at the heart of the dispute.
The 1875 demarcation, notified on August 20 that year, derived from the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation (BEFR) Act, 1873. It differentiated Lushai Hills from the plains of Cachar in Assam’s Barak Valley. This was done in consultation with Mizo chiefs, and it became the basis for the Inner Line Reserve Forest demarcation in the Gazette two years later.

The 1933 demarcation marks a boundary between Lushai Hills and Manipur, beginning at the tri-junction of Lushai Hills, Cachar district and Manipur. The Mizos do not accept this demarcation on the ground that their chiefs were not consulted this time.

According to Mizo leaders, the only acceptable boundary is the Inner Line of 1875 on the southern frontier of Cachar, notified as per the BEFR Act. (This was subsequently revised in 1878 as it sought to demarcate the Lushai Hills frontier from the plains of Assam.

The dispute has been simmering since Mizoram became a Union Territory in 1972 and then a state in the 1980s. The two states signed an agreement that status quo should be maintained at no-man’s land set up in the boundaries. While alleged transgressions have often happened over the decades, skirmishes have happened very frequently in recent months.

While Assam sees its claimed boundary as transgressed, Mizoram cites unilateral moves by Assam inside Mizoram territory. It alleges that in June last year, Assam officials entered Mamit district and visited some farms; that miscreants entered Kolasib district and burnt down two farm huts; and that Assam officials visited the inter-state border between Vairengte (Mizoram) and Lailapur (Assam) and crossed the duty post manned by the CRPF. Mizoram claims that both Assam and Mizoram authorities have undertaken construction work at Buarchep village of Mizoram, and that the Home Ministry is aware of all these issues.

Last October, Assam Police officers allegedly visited Saihapui ‘V’ in Mizoram and threatened to blockade the inter-state highway. Later that month, the inter-state highway as well as the National Highway connecting the two states was blockaded by individuals at Lailapur in Assam. In November, bombs exploded at Upper Phainuam Lower Primary School in Mizoram. A peace meeting was held between the two states.

In recent months, several huts and small shops have been torched, and violent clashes have taken place on issues as petty as claims over betel nut cultivation, with plantations belonging to two residents of Mizoram allegedly set ablaze. There have been clashes between villagers of Lailapur and Vairengte, and between residents of Karimganj (Assam) and Mamiut (Mizoram).