From 'illegal immigrants' to 'temple construction' plans, a look at causes of tensions along Mizoram's state borders

Mizoram is presently locked in tensions on two of its state borders — with Assam and Tripura — owing to a number of concerns

FP Staff October 19, 2020 14:34:48 IST
From 'illegal immigrants' to 'temple construction' plans, a look at causes of tensions along Mizoram's state borders

File image of Mizoram chief minister Zoramthanga. ANI

Mizoram is presently locked in tensions on two of its state borders — with Assam and Tripura — due to concerns ranging from illegal immigrants to the proposed construction of a temple. While the latter dispute appears to be winding down, the former continues to simmer.

The chief ministers of Assam and Mizoram, Sarbananda Sonowal and Zoramthanga, discussed the issue on a phone call on Sunday, NDTV reported. While Sonowal briefed Prime Minister Narendra Modi's office and the Union home ministry over the dispute, the Mizoram government is also said to have reached out to the Centre in a bid to defuse the situation.

In the wake of recent incidents of violence, Zoramthanga on Sunday also posted a tweet exhorting people to maintain peace and not "bypass any administrative proceedings".

Meanwhile, the Mizoram government on Sunday revoked the prohibitory order imposed in two villages along the border with Tripura after plans for the construction of a temple were called off.

Here is an overview of the state border troubles of Mizoram, and the causes behind them.

Dispute with Assam

Mizoram's dispute with Assam appears to be the more serious one at present, and violence has been reported from the region in the recent past. On Saturday evening, at least four people were injured and several temporary shops and huts were burnt, according to an article in The Indian Express.

The violence took place at the Vairengte border village in Mizoram's Kolasib district. The National Highway 306 (formerly 54) passes through the village, linking the state to Assam.

Kolasib district deputy commissioner H Lalthlangliana was quoted as saying by PTI that a large number of Vairengte residents assembled when some people from Assam, armed with sticks and dao, pelted stones at a group near the autorickshaw stand on the outskirts of the village.

The border tensions have been sparked partly by claims about the presence of a large number of illegal Bangladeshi immigrants in the area.

Mizoram's MNF MLA Lalrintluanga Sailo, who is camping at Vairengte, said that his state is not hostile to Assam or its people but is protecting its territory from infiltration by illegal Bangladeshi immigrants, who are living in the border areas.

He claimed that more than 80 percent of people living along the Assam-Mizoram border are illegal Bangladeshi immigrants.

Sailo alleged that the border dispute is a ploy by some politicians with vested interest living in the border areas to take advantage in view of the Assam election, likely to be held early next year.

At least 11 MLAs of Mizoram's ruling party MNF, including deputy speaker Lalrinawma, are at present camping in Vairengte.

The Assam government, on its part, said that the situation is under control and senior officials along with police are in the area to defuse the tension.

The state's Forest Minister Parimal Shuklabaidya, who is the MLA of Dholai in Cachar, told PTI that such incidents happen in the area every year as people from both the sides illegally cut trees.

The incident was the handiwork of miscreants to create disturbance in the community, a statement issued by the Assam government quoted him as saying.

Assam and Mizoram share a 164.6-km state border. As mentioned in an article in The Times of India, conflicting territorial claims have persisted for a long time, and several dialogues held since 1995 have yielded little result.

Dispute with Tripura

The dispute between Mizoram and Tripura is over the village of Phuldungsai, which both states claim as part of their territory. The immediate flashpoint was a proposal by a Bru organisation from Tripura to construct a temple there.

According to The Print, the Mizoram government in a letter on 9 October asked the Tripura administration to stop construction and “community work” by the tribal body, claiming these can result in law and order problems in the disputed area.

On 16 October, prohibitory order under Section 144 of the CrPC was clamped in Phuldungsei Zampui and the nearby Zomuantlang village, both of which are in Mizoram's Mamit district.

The prohibitory order said that an organisation called Songrongma was "intending" to construct a Shiva temple at Thaidawn tlang on 19 and 20 October.

The proposed construction has been planned without the permission of the Mizoram government and is against the interest of the local community, which could harm the peace and tranquility in the region, the order said.

However, the prohibitory order was revoked on Sunday after the organisation called off the proposed construction.

On Saturday, in a letter written to Mizoram deputy secretary of home David H Lalthangliana, Tripura government's additional secretary AK Bhattacharya said the prohibitory order was "erroneous" and "highly objectionable".

It said that Mizoram's Mamit district administration had erroneously mentioned Betlingchhip, also known as Thaidawr Tlang, which is currently in the Tripura government's jurisdiction.

With inputs from PTI

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