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Assam Chief Minister talks tough on Mizoram border row

Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on July 27, 2021 pays tribute in Guwahati to Assam police personnel who lost their lives in the Assam-Mizoram border clash.   | Photo Credit: PTI

Assam will abide by any law enacted by Parliament that makes it even cede its land to another State but till then it will not allow even an “inch to be encroached upon”, Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma asserted on Tuesday, amid the border row with Mizoram.

Mr. Sarma’s comments came a day after six Assamese people — five police personnel and a civilian — were killed and over 50 injured in the border clashes.

He also said Assam will move the Supreme Court seeking protection of the Innerline Forest Reserve from destruction and encroachment and deploy three commando battalions in Cachar, Karimganj and Hailakandi districts bordering Mizoram to strengthen security. Assam has declared a three-day State mourning following the incident.

 

He also visited the Silchar Medical College and Hospital and met police personnel injured in the attack. Assam, he said, will behave responsibly under all circumstances, and even under provocation, will not fire back at civilians.

“We hope that the Mizos regret that they have fired at fellow countrymen but we are leaving it to their wisdom and conscience. This is a dispute between two states and not a fight between countries. But the video evidence that we have of the Mizo forces celebrating after attacking our people has saddened and hurt us,” he said.

The Chief Minister said that satellite images have shown that roads are being constructed and forests cleared for jhum cultivation (shifting cultivation) which cannot be allowed.

“We will move the Supreme Court to ensure that the forests are protected,” he said.

“The dispute is not regarding land but encroachment of reserved forests is the issue. We have no settlements in the forest areas and, if Mizoram can give evidence, we will immediately carry out eviction,” he said.

The Chief Minister asserted that not an inch of Assam's land could be encroached by the neighbouring State. “People have sacrificed their lives but boundary has been protected which we will continue to do at any cost,” he asserted.

Mr. Sarma said after he took office in May, he had spoken to Mizoram Chief Minister Zoramthanga and suggested that both the States should maintain status quo. The Mizoram CM had agreed but insisted that Chief Secretary-level talks should continue, he said.

The Assam Chief Minister said in the last few months several attempts were made to encroach Assam’s land in Hailakandi, Karimganj and Cachar districts in five sectors and the police foiled each attempt.

“On July 25, Cachar DFO gave a report that a road was being constructed inside the Inner Line Forest, and when our deputy commissioner, IGP and DIG rushed to the spot, the next day they found that not only a road but a police post had also been set up in the forest,” he said.

The Kolasib Superintendent of Police was asked to remove the post, and while talks were going on to find a peaceful solution, Mr. Sarma alleged, “Mizoram police along with civilians began pelting stones, opened fire and later started firing from LMGs from top of a hill which continued for 30 to 35 minutes.”

He said as the firing was on he spoke to Mr. Zoramthanga six times, asking him to control the situation “but he just said that he was sorry”.

 


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Printable version | Sep 28, 2021 6:48:48 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/assam-chief-minister-talks-tough-on-mizoram-border-row/article35554723.ece

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