- GS 3: Challenges to internal security.
- The border dispute between Assam and Mizoram turned violent leading to the death of at least 6-Assam policemen, while injuring around 50 individuals.
- The current issue began when Assam police allegedly took control over ‘Aitlanghar’, accusing the people of Mizoram of encroaching on its territory.
- Since then, the region is witnessing frequent clashes from the people and the police of both the sides.
Border of Assam with Mizoram
- Three districts of Assam, namely Cachar, Hailakandi and Karimganj, share boundary with three districts of Mizoram, namely Kolasib, Mamit, and Aizawl.
- Both sides have a different perception of the border line, which is an imaginary line through rivers, hills, forests, and valleys.
- The boundary dispute between Assam and Mizoram is nearly a 150-year-old issue.
- There are two boundary demarcations, one in 1875 and the other in 1933, which are the root cause of the current tension.
- The 1875 demarcations, when Mizoram was known as Lushai Hills, was derived from the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation (BEFR) Act, 1873.
- It differentiated Lushai Hills from the plains of Cachar in Assam’s Barak Valley.
- The whole demarcation was done in consultation with the Mizo chiefs, and it became the basis for the Inner Line Reserve Forest demarcation in the Gazette two years later.
- The 1933 demarcation marks a boundary between Lushai Hills and Manipur, beginning at the tri-junction of Lushai Hills, Cachar district and Manipur.
- The Mizos do not accept this demarcation on the ground that their chiefs were not consulted this time.
Different border perceptions
- While the Mizo leaders believes that the only acceptable boundary is the Inner Line of 1875, the people of Assam consider the demarcation of 1933 to be the actual boundary.
Simmering of the dispute
- The dispute started becoming bitter when Mizoram was made a Union Territory in 1972, and eventually a state in 1987, on the basis of 1933 demarcation. The two states signed an agreement that status quo should be maintained at no-man’s land set up in the boundaries.
- In 1995, the first major tension was reported in Lushai Hills along the border when the Mizoram government tried to settle people there as per the 1875 demarcation.
- Again, in 2018, nearly 50 persons were injured in action by Assam police after some Mizo civil society groups tried to set up a hut on the disputed boundary.
- These skirmishes again resulted in the two states agreeing to maintain a status quo and have no man’s land in the disputed area.
- Recent tensions, however, exposed the pent-up issues of the border demarcation.
- This is not a one-off issue and Assam has border disputes with all the states that were carved out of it, namely Nagaland, Meghalaya, and Arunachal Pradesh.
- The issue finds its roots in the British rule. It, however, need to be resolved soon as India is a Union of states and ensuring peace and stability in the region is the prerogative of the Union Government.
- A multistakeholder approach, whereby no affected community is left out, is the need of the hour.