Guwahati (Assam) [India], July 31 (ANI): Assam government led by Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma has taken strong steps against drug and cattle smuggling via Assam-Mizoram border and steps have been taken for the first time against "encroachment" though it has been happening since 2000, Jayanta Malla Baruah, Political Secretary to the Chief Minister said on Friday.
Baruah alleged that there is a big relation between drug smuggling and violence along the inter-state border between Assam and Mizoram that left six Assam police personnel dead and 50 others injured.
He said that Mizoram should adhere to "constitutional boundary" between the two states.
He also claimed that Champhai in Mizoram "is main hub of drug mafias and cattle smugglers" in the region.
"Encroachment has been happening since 2000 but nobody retaliated. This is the first time Assam Govt has taken a strong step. CM Himanta Biswa Sarma has taken strong steps against drug & cattle smuggling via Assam-Mizoram border," Baruah told ANI.
"There is an illegal smuggling route from Myanmar, Mizoram via Assam to Haryana and Punjab. There is a big relation between drug smuggling and this issue (clashes at border)," he said.
Baruah blamed Mizoram for not adhering to the constitutional boundary between the two states.
"Mizoram is referring to historical boundary. Indian constitution has given a boundary between Mizoram and Assam. They are not agreeing to that constitutional boundary. They always take into consideration the historical boundary, which is not fixed, because there are so many historical accounts," he said.
"Everyone must obey constitutional boundary," he added.
Baruah said they were just protecting their land and not inciting violence.
"Our police personnel were gunned by their weapons. This portrays a bad image of Mizoram police," he said.
He also noted that everyone in Assam wants peace.
"From Assam's side, from Chief Minster to common people, everyone talks about peace. All northeast states are our brothers and sisters. We are called as seven sisters. All land is India's land, be it Assam or Mizoram."
"All this has happened but Mizoram Chief Minister has not even apologized," said Baruah, who is also the MLA of Nalbari in Assam.
Referring to the advisory urging people of the state to avoid travelling to Mizoram and exercise caution, he said the advisory is not a blockade.
"It is just an advisory to citizens that people should not visit Mizoram until a peace prevails," Baruah said.
"I hope the Central government will take a positive step. Whatever central government says, we will follow," he added.
The genesis of the dispute between Assam and Mizoram concerning their boundaries is notifications issued in 1875 and 1933 - almost stretching to 150 years.
Mizoram, then known as Lushai Hills, was a district of Assam till 1972. It became Mizo District in September 1954 vide the Lushai Hills District (Change of Name) Act, 1954.
Mizo District of Assam was formed as the Union Territory of Mizoram from January 1972 under North eastern Areas (Reorganisation Act) 1971.
Mizoram became a state from February 20, 1987.
Sources in Assam government said boundary and inner line of the Lushai Hills district had been described in a notification of March 1933 by the then Chief Secretary to the Govt. of Assam.
"The northern, western, southern and eastern boundaries of the Lushai Hills district are coincident with the inner line of the Lushai Hills District," the notification said.
The sources said this boundary description has remained unchanged after Mizoram became a Union Territory and a state.
Assam and Mizoram share 164.6 km border. The Hailakandi district of Assam shares 99.10 km boundary with Mizoram while Karimganj shares 12.60 km boundary.
Assam government sources said there have been several border incidents over the past year and these were subsequently taken up by Assam officials with Mizoram. They said information was received in May 2020 about construction of two dwelling houses and presence of uniformed police personnel of Mizoram in Singla RF in Karimganj district. The sources said that Mizoram police in October 2020 "illegally set up check gate at Kulicherra II and two more police camps/nakka on NH-306 about one kilometre in Cachar district.
They said two low intensity bomb blasts occurred in premises of Muliwala LP School located on Assam-Mizoram border in Hailakandi district in February this year.
Political parties of Mizoram have said earlier that the present boundary was arbitrarily made in 1930 and 1933 without the consent of the competent authorities and the people of the Lushai Hills and some Lushai inhabited areas have been excluded.
Assam government sources claim that efforts of encroachment from Mizoram side have been going on since 1972 and in various meetings between the Chief Ministers, both sides have agreed time and again on maintaining status quo, delineation and demarcation of boundary through a tripartite mechanism consisting of Survey of India and land authorities of both the states.
They also claim time and again there have been "further ingresses from Mizoram side and so far about 16.61sq km of Assam territory has been encroached from Mizoram side with large scale destruction of forests in violation of the forest laws".
Assam government sources said the recent incidents started after the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic when Mizoram set up COVID screening centers at various places by deploying their armed police forces within Assam territory which was objected to by the jurisdictional field officers from Assam.
The sources said Assam Police received political clearance in May this year to take any measures necessary to stop the encroachments.
They said Silchar- Vairengte - Lushai route is a prime route for illegal trade as it connects to Myanmar and then to China and was being used to smuggle illegal cattle , drugs and forest produce.
Assam police stepped up vigil on this route choking illicit trade from May this year.
Mizo leaders have said in the past that the only acceptable boundary is the Inner Line of 1875 on the southern frontier of Cachar.
Assam Chief Minister Hemanta Biswa Sarma and Mizoram Chief Minister Zoramthanga exchanged several letters and telephonic conversations on the border disputes since May this year and in all these communications, a plea was made to maintain status quo and meet in person to sort out these issues.
They said Assam Chief Minister is apprising his counterparts in northeast of ground facts and the people of Assam expect at least a formal statement of regret "for the killings" from Mizoram. (ANI)