Assam

Assam-Mizoram Border Row: We will not allow even an inch of our forest land to be encroached; Assam CM

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SILCHAR:   Talking on Assam-Mizoram Border Row, Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, today stated that  “he will abide by any law enacted by Parliament that forces it to even cede its land to another state but till then it will not allow even an “inch to be encroached”.

Assam chief minister Sarma told reporters in Silchar that his government will move the Supreme Court seeking protection of Innerline Forest Reserve from destruction and encroachment and deploy three commando battalions in Cachar, Karimganj and Hailakandi districts bordering Mizoram to strengthen security.

The chief minister also stated that  “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,”. Even  if there will be a residence of chief minister, then we will evict  it also, he said.

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“People have sacrificed their lives but boundary has been protected which we will continue to do at any cost. There is very strong deployment of police inside our border and not an inch of land will be allowed to be encroached,” he asserted.

When asked if the problem could have been resolved as constituents of NEDA, the northeastern version of the NDA, were ruling the two states, Sarma shot back, saying, “This is not a political issue but a long-standing boundary dispute. Earlier, there were Congress governments in both the states. Was the problem resolved then?”

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Assam’s Barak Valley districts of Cachar, Karimganj and Hailakandi share a 164-km border with Mizoram’s three districts of Aizawl, Kolasib and Mamit. Tensions along the border with Mizoram in Cachar and Hailakandi districts of Assam have been escalating since October 2020 with frequent incidents of burning of houses and charges of encroachment of land by both sides. On October 22, 2020, high-level talks were held under the aegis of the Union Home Ministry where it was decided to maintain the status quo and resolve the dispute through discussions.

Mizoram was a district of Assam before it was carved out as a union territory in 1971 after years of insurgency and the district borders did not really matter. It became a state in 1987 and border issues cropped up as perceptions over where the boundary should be differed. While Mizoram wants it to be along the inner line notified in 1875, which Mizo tribals feel is part of their historical homeland, Assam insists it should be defined according to district demarcation done much later.

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Meanwhile, the Centre has summoned to New Delhi the chief secretaries and DGPs of Assam and Mizoram for a meeting on Wednesday while the restive inter-state border was calm, a day after armed clashes left six dead and over 50 injured, officials said.

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