New Delhi: Five Assam Police personnel were killed Monday after violence erupted along the interstate border with Mizoram in Cachar district, Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said.
“It is with a heavy heart that we are constrained to note that what is being termed by the Mizoram side as an intrusion and aggression by Assam, has left 5 police personnel confirmed dead,” a statement by the Assam government said.
July 26, 2021
Government of Assam's Press Statement on Mizoram Issue. pic.twitter.com/DW04yLHjF1
— Himanta Biswa Sarma (@himantabiswa) July 26, 2021
The violence comes on a day chief ministers Sarma and Mizoram’s Zoramthanga got into a Twitter spat as tensions between the two states spiralled. Home Minister Amit Shah, who was in Meghalaya just a day before and held a closed-door meeting with all eight CMs of the Northeast states, finally intervened to help calm the situation.
Shah spoke to both CMs after the violence at the border escalated, asking them to ensure peace.
Sarma had tweeted that he spoke to his Mizoram counterpart and reiterated that Assam will maintain status quo and peace. In response, Mizoram’s Zoramthanga said that “as discussed, I kindly urge that Assam Police be instructed to withdraw from Vairengte for the safety of civilians”.
The dispute between the two states, centred on the exact definition of the boundary, dates around 50 years back to the formation of Mizoram, which was first carved out of the erstwhile Assam state as a Union territory in 1972 before being made a full-fledged state in 1987.
The two states share a 164.6-km border between the Assamese districts of Cachar, Hailakandi and Karimganj, and Mizoram’s Kolasib, Mamit and Aizawl districts.
The latest round of tensions between the states flared up last month when Mizoram accused Assam Police of seizing an area named Aitlang hnar in Kolasib — located 5 km from the Vairengte village, which borders Assam.
Assam Police says 50 injured too
A senior Assam Police officer, on the condition of anonymity, confirmed to ThePrint the death of the police personnel, and added that at least 50 others had sustained injuries.
“Cachar district Superintendent of Police, Nimbalkar Vaibhav Chandrakant has also been injured,” the senior officer said.
“Several police personnel have been injured as a result of stone pelting,” the officer added.
Government sources in Mizoram told ThePrint there were no casualties on their side. “Forty rounds of tear gas were fired by the Assam Police,” a government official said, adding that there was a lathi-charge as well.
Earlier in the day, CM Zoramthanga Monday had shared a clipping on Twitter which showed the police trying to break up a clash among a group of men armed with sticks.
Shri @AmitShah ji….kindly look into the matter.
— Zoramthanga (@ZoramthangaCM) July 26, 2021
In response to this, the Assam Police alleged that “miscreants from Mizoram are indulging in stone-pelting” and attacking government officials from Assam stationed at Lailapur.
It's unfortunate that large number of miscreants from Mizoram are indulging in stone pelting and such forms of attack at Assam Government Officials, stationed at Lailapur to protect Assam's land from encroachment.
— Assam Police (@assampolice) July 26, 2021
In a statement Monday evening, CM Zoramthanga said, “Government of Mizoram strongly condemns unjustified acts of the Government of Assam in this intrusion and aggression into the territory of Mizoram. The Government of Mizoram deeply regrets the needless injuries on both sides which could have been avoided.”
State Home Minister Lalchamliana said that around “200 armed Assam Police personnel led by IGP” came to the Vairengte auto-rickshaw stand and “forcibly crossed duty post manned by CRPF personnel stationed there and overran a duty post manned by Mizoram Police”.
He added that residents of Vairengte town, on learning about the incident, had then gone to the site to enquire what was happening. “Unarmed civilians were assaulted by the Assam Police with lathi charging and tear gas which left several citizens injured,” he said, according to ANI.
He added that “10 grenades were launched at Mizoram Police” who came under fire from the Assam Police, and that the Mizoram Police responded by firing back. This happened when the Superintendent of Police, Kolasib district, was inside the CRPF duty camp, negotiating with the Assam Police, he said.
(Edited by Manasa Mohan)
The report has been updated to reflect the correct toll of Assam policemen killed in the violence. An earlier tweet by CM Himanta Biswa Sarma said six police personnel were killed.