Assam seeks NIA probe into man’s death in Mizoram

Fearing retaliatory violence, Mizoram writes to Assam seeking safety and security of Mizo communities

November 03, 2020 02:10 pm | Updated 08:53 pm IST - GUWAHATI:

Google map image of Assam-Mizoram border.

Google map image of Assam-Mizoram border.

The Assam government has sought a probe by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) into the death of a 48-year-old, who was allegedly abducted by miscreants and killed in Mizoram amid an economic blockade by groups in Assam leading to shortage of essentials in Mizoram.

Also read:  Assam CM writes to Amit Shah over border tension with Mizoram

The two States have been embroiled in a border dispute since October 17, with Assam accusing Mizoram of encroaching large swathes of land in Cachar and Karimganj districts.

Tension along the 164.6 km boundary between the two States escalated on Monday following the death of Intiaz Ali Laskar, a resident of Lailapur in Assam’s Cachar district, in a community health centre at Vairengte in Mizoram’s Kolasib district.

A statement from Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal’s office on November 2 said Laskar was abducted by miscreants. The Mizoram government claimed he was a drug trader who was injured grievously while being chased by a local vigilante group.

“We visited the affected areas to assess the situation. We handed over to the bereaved family a condolence message from the Chief Minister besides an ex-gratia of ₹5 lakh. The issue is being taken up at the highest level,” Assam Chief Secretary Jishnu Barua told The Hindu on Tuesday evening after visiting the disputed area with Director General of Police Bhaskar Jyoti Mahanta.

Also read:  Fresh unrest on Assam-Mizoram border

Assam Home Department officials said a decision had been taken to hand over the investigation of Mr Ali’s death to the NIA.

Mizoram Excise officials allegedly found 420 mg of heroin with the man, registered a case against him and sent him to a community health centre where he died of his injuries.

Mr. Ali’s relatives trashed the allegations of the Mizoram officials, saying he was a firewood collector, who often ventured into the jungles along the border.

FIR by Assam police

Assam has asked Mizoram to investigate Mr Ali’s death by following the relevant National Human Rights Commission guidelines applicable in case of custodial deaths.

Assam Deputy Director-General of Police (Southern Range) Dilip Kumar Dey said a first information report (FIR) in connection with the death was filed at the Dhalai police station in Cachar district.

Also read: Assam-Mizoram border row continues

“We have asked the Mizoram police to share video evidence of the post-mortem and the Centre is likely to look into the matter,” he said.

Discussions between officials of both States defused the tension, and blockades on roads leading to Mizoram were lifted on October 22. But Mizoram’s refusal to withdraw its forces from the disputed areas led to another round of unrest a week later.

Safety of Mizos in Assam

The Mizoram government has asked Assam officials to protect the stranded Mizos who could be victims of violence as a reaction to the death.

“In order to prevent any retaliatory actions by interested parties within Assam especially along the inter-State border, I would like to request you to ensure the safety and security of Mizo communities living within Assam...,” a message from David H. Lalthangliana, Mizoram Home Department’s Deputy Secretary, to Assam’s Home Commissioner-Secretary read.

Saizikpuii, the liaison officer of Mizoram House in Cachar district headquarters Silchar, said all Mizos living in Silchar have been advised to take shelter in Mizoram House as a precautionary measure. A few Mizos along the Assam-Mizoram border have fled to Jiribam in adjoining Manipur for fear of communal clash, she added.

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