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Assam-Mizoram border quiet, Guwahati talks peace with Nagaland, Arunachal

The restive Assam-Mizoram border stayed quiet on Saturday as Guwahati moved in to defuse tensions with some of its northeastern neighbours to ensure tranquility along the interstate boundaries, officials said.

Notwithstanding the uneventful situation, five days after a bloody border clash between Assam and Mizoram police, backed by hordes of aggressive civilians, left six police personnel and a civilian dead, not a single truck carrying supplies from Assam entered the neighbouring state.

Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, meanwhile, questioned the rationale behind the Mizoram government registering an FIR against him and six state officials over the recent border clash when its place of occurrence is within his state’s “constitutional territory”.

No vehicles carrying essential commodities or passengers from Assam have entered Mizoram since Monday, the day of the armed clash, Officer in-charge of Vairengte police station Lalchawimawa said on Saturday.

Assam, which even issued an advisory asking its citizens to avoid visiting Mizoram, has been insisting that no economic blockade is in place.

Lalchawimawa said not a single vehicle from Assam entered Mizoram even on Saturday but some trucks were heading towards Assam”s Barak valley from there.

Located on the northern fringe of the state, Vairengte is the nearest border town and gateway to Mizoram near where the violent clash had occurred.

Mizoram Home Secretary Lalbiaksangi had said in her letter to Union Additional Home Secretary in charge of the northeast that vehicles carrying essential commodities and Covid-19 consignments like test kits were stranded in Lailapur-Dholai area in Assam”s Cachar district on the NH-306.

Lalrozama, Deputy Commissioner of Mamit district, which also shares border with Tripura, told PTI that some essential supplies, including oil and LPG, are reaching the state from there.

Meanwhile, betraying the unease in his state’s relations with Mizoram, Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said he will be “very happy” to join the probe but wondered why is it not being handed over to a “neutral agency”.

The Mizoram police had lodged an FIR against Sarma and six officials under various charges including those related to attempt to murder and criminal conspiracy at Vairengte police station late on Monday after a gunfight between Mizoram and the Assam police. The FIR, however, became public on Friday.

Responding to the development, Sarma tweeted, “Will be very happy to join in any investigation”. “….. But why is the case not being handed over to a neutral agency, especially when the place of occurrence is well within the constitutional territory of Assam.”

Sarma said he has conveyed as much to his Mizoram counterpart Zoramthanga. Zoramthanga, in a gesture which many would perceive as one extending an olive branch to Assam, said that northeast India will always be one.

Zoramthanga also shared on Twitter a notification issued by his government which said there will be no restrictions on the movement of non-residents of Mizoram in Kolasib district, which borders Assam”s Cachar district.

“#NorthEast India will always be #One,” the chief minister tweeted on Friday.

The police of the two states have registered cases against each other’s personnel over the clashes and issued summonses.

With large swathes of its borders simmering over prolonged disputes with neighbouring states over territory, Assam signed an agreement with Nagaland on Saturday under which both sides agreed to withdraw troops from two contested areas within 24 hours.

The agreement was signed by the chief secretary of Assam Jishnu Barua and his Nagaland counterpart J Alam to de-escalate tensions in Dessoi valley reserved forest and Tsurangkong valley. While the first location is in Assam, the second is in Nagaland, and police from the two states were confronting each other eyeball to eyeball for about a month.

The two sides decided to move their forces back to their base camps simultaneously and the exercise will be completed in the next 24 hours. The Superintendents of Police of Mokokchung (Nagaland) and Jorhat (Assam) will be responsible for their orderly withdrawal.

Both the states will conduct surveillance in the area with the help of unmanned aerial vehicles and satellite imagery and maintain status quo.

Meanwhile, Assam and Arunachal Pradesh have decided to conduct joint patrolling along the inter-state border to check illegal activities and maintain status quo along the boundary to ensure peaceful relationship between the two neighbours.

An inter-state border districts coordination meeting between the civil and police administrations of Dibrugarh district of Assam and Arunachal Pradesh”s Tirap was held in Deomali on Friday, official sources said. Forest department officials of the two districts also attended the meet in the Arunachal Pradesh town.

During the day-long meeting, various issues pertaining to border areas were discussed, including improvement of road connectivity and illegal timber logging, mining and liquor transportation, the sources said. It was decided that joint patrolling by Assam Police and Arunachal Pradesh Police as well as Forest department personnel of both states will be carried out to tackle illegal business of timber and mining in the border area.

The deputy commissioners of the two districts also decided to hold similar goodwill meetings from time to time. PTI

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