There appears to be a hint of a thaw in the relations between Assam and Mizoram after the border conflict escalation and the subsequent gunfight that led to the death of six police officers and several injured officers. Upon the diktat issued by the Union Home Ministry under Amit Shah, the two states have agreed that neutral forces will remain in charge of the disputed zone straddling the three Barak Valley districts of Cachar, Karimganj and Hailakandi, and Mamit and Kolasib in Mizoram.
The Congress, which has enjoyed power in the northeast for long years and yet failed to deliver when it came to developing the region and stopping insurgency, is now attacking the Modi government by weaponising the border issue between the states of Assam and Mizoram. In a sensitive time after the clashes between the Mizoram police and Assam police, Congress did the job of fanning the flames instead of helping calm the situation.
While the opposition wanted animosity between the states to linger so that they could continue to gain political points from the controversy, Home Minister’s active involvement by repeatedly calling both state heads and occasionally giving them the stick has finally borne fruit as the two northeastern states look set to return to normalcy.
ना राष्ट्रीय सीमा सुरक्षित, ना राज्य सीमा।
— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) July 31, 2021
The two States also decided not to send their respective police and forest forces “for patrolling, domination, enforcement or for fresh deployment to any of the areas where confrontation and conflict has taken place between the police forces of the two States during recent times”.
The decision comes in the backdrop of Amit Shah calling both parties and asking them to reach an amicable solution to the conflict. After fresh negotiations began, representatives of both states held a 90-minute meeting in Aizwal and released a joint statement afterwards.
“Both the state governments agree to maintain peace in the inter-state border areas and welcomed the deployment of (a) neutral force by the Government of India in this regard,” the release stated.
After a meeting with the officials of Govt of Assam & Mizoram, a joint statement is singed by Hon’ble Minister, Assam, @ATULBORA2 Ji, Hon’ble Home Minister, Mizoram, @Lalchamliana12, Comm. & Secy, Border Protection, Assam Sri GD Tripathi & Home Secy, Mizoram Sri Vanlalngathsaka. pic.twitter.com/a10QmA4pP3
— Ashok Singhal (@TheAshokSinghal) August 5, 2021
The meeting also resulted in Mizoram officially condoling the death of six Assam cops and as a return favour, the Assam government on Thursday also revoked its advisory against travel to Mizoram.
Mizoram CM extending an olive branch
As reported by TFI, after a momentarily blip in the relations, Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma had ordered the withdrawal of FIR against Mizoram MP K. Vanlalvena after Mizoram CM Zoramthanga extended the olive branch.
Sarma took cognizance of Zoramthanga’s remarks and stated, “I have noted statements in media by Hon’ble CM Zoramthanga wherein he has expressed his desire to settle the border dispute amicably. Assam always wants to keep the spirit of North East alive. We are also committed to ensuring peace along our borders…To take this goodwill gesture ahead, I have directed Assam Police to withdraw FIR against K. Vanlalvena, Hon’ble MP, Rajya Sabha from Mizoram. However, cases against other accused police officers will be pursued,”
While it is indeed laudable that common sense has prevailed and the flared tempers have toned down, it is also important that both state governments reach the end of the investigation. The gunfight and the events leading up to it need to be closely examined. After all, several videos in the aftermath of the incident circulated on the realms of social media platforms showed people in civilian dresses wielding the heavy-automatic rifles and later bursting into celebratory dance moves after killing fellow countrymen.
After killing 5 Assam police personnel and injuring many , this is how Mizoram police and goons are celebrating.- sad and horrific pic.twitter.com/fBwvGIOQWr
— Himanta Biswa Sarma (@himantabiswa) July 26, 2021
Sarma has already insinuated that the non-state actors could have played a part in orchestrating the gunfight as the drug routes originating in Myanmar, go through Mizoram and through the Barak valley.
The long-standing border dispute finds its root in the colonial past and to this date continues to haunt the integrity of the country in the Northeast region. However, subsequent governments failed to find any solution to the problem and instead preferred to look the other way.
Moreover, the escalation in tension came to the fore a few days after Amit Shah visited the Northeast to meet with the Chief Ministers and Chief Secretaries of the states which are part of the North-Eastern Democratic Alliance (NEDA) and asked them to resolve the border issues – suggesting that some forces did not want border peace.
Himanta even before becoming the CM had remarked that NEDA should help fight the drug menace that is prevalent in the region. A major source of funding for the insurgents comes through the drug route. Thus directly or indirectly, Himanta is the target. Exposing the fault lines through the border tension is a way to prolong the disturbance in the region. Congress, TMC, RJD have wasted no time in making it a BJP vs North-East problem, thereby playing the side of drug mafias and insurgents.
एक भारत, श्रेष्ठ भारत?
भारत के दो राज्यों की पुलिस भिड़ रही है, जवान मारे जा रहे हैं!
अभी गृह मंत्री असम से लौटे हैं। क्या गुल खिलाए? क्या उनकी कोई जवाबदेही नहीं है? https://t.co/ECIo2rn93l
— Jayant Chaudhary (@jayantrld) July 26, 2021
There is no denying the fact that Sarma is the tallest leader in the Northeast. Through the CAA-NRC protests and countless skirmishes by the opposition, he has stood his ground firmly. The political opponents and the insurgents across the two states fear that with Sarma at the helm of affairs, the border problem could be solved.
After the ice breaks, the two governments need to repose their faith in each other and try to work together to nab the perpetrators that flamed the anarchic events on the border. The Northeast has already lagged behind in the development race for long, internal rifts cannot allow that to continue any longer.