Guwahati: The border dispute between Assam and Mizoram has been hanging fire for the past several decades. The first conflict broke out in 1994, leading to several rounds of talks between the two states at the behest of the Central government. However, it failed to resolve the issue and sporadic clashes have continued since then.
Tensions escalated to an unprecedented level in October 2020 when residents of Assam and Mizoram clashed twice a week. At least eight people were injured as angry residents torched huts and small shops on both sides.
At the heart of the matter was an “eviction drive” carried out by Assam along a contested part of the border — authorities from the state reportedly burned a farmhouse and crops in the area. The Mizoram government responded by deploying troops in areas that Assam claims were part of its territory.
Residents from both states also blocked key highways, bringing all traffic to a halt for almost three weeks until the central government intervened to defuse tensions.
As the situation remained fluid a high-level meeting between officials of both the states, including the chief secretaries and DGPs, was also held in New Delhi earlier this month, on the issue to sort out the dispute. The meeting had succeeded in creating consensus on the issue but Mizoram chief secretary refused to sign the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU). However, it was decided in the meeting to maintain the status quo and resolve the dispute through discussions
Mizoram was a district of Assam before it was carved out as a separate union territory in 1971 after years of insurgency and the district borders did not really matter.
The border issue cropped up after that as perceptions over where the boundary should have differed.
While Mizoram wants it to be along the inner line notified in 1875, which Mizo tribes feel is part of their historical homeland, Assam wants it to be demarcated according to district demarcation done much later.
The two states share a 164.6-km border between Assam’s districts of Cachar, Hailakandi and Karimganj, and Mizoram’s Kolasib, Mamit and Aizawl district.
It is significant that during the British era, Mizoram was called Lushai Hills, a district of Assam.
The Notification of 1875, derived from the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation (BEFR) Act, 1873, that demarcated Lushai Hills (now Mizoram) from the Cachar district of Assam. The Notification of 1933, that demarcated Lushai Hills and Manipur. The Assam government follows the Notification of 1933.