Silchar (Assam)/Aizawl, Jul 28, 2021, IANS
By Sujit Chakraborty
Policemen, traders, workers -- people from all walks of life -- are deeply disheartened over the violent clashes on the Assam-Mizoram borders which recently led to the killing of six Assam police personnel, besides injuring around 100 civilians and security personnel from the two neighbouring northeastern states.
The injured Assam police personnel, traders doing business in both Assam and Mizoram, construction workers working in the two states and other people have been deeply saddened by the recent turn of events, stating that the people of the two states shared close ties for decades, which were damaged by Monday's violent border clashes.
Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, who rushed to Silchar in southern Assam on Tuesday to pay his tribute to the martyred policemen, said that this is not like China-India border dispute, but a dispute between two Indian states in which arms should not have been used.
"The people of Assam and Mizoram have shared close relations and common interests for decades. Nobody is enemy of the other. Then why use arms? Such border disputes can be resolved amicably and through discussions," Sarma said in Guwahati on Wednesday.
"It might be that some people in Mizoram are annoyed after the Assam government curtailed the drugs trade chain from Myanmar to other parts of India via Mizoram and Assam. A section of Mizoram police might have clandestine relations with the armed civilians of that state. The Mizoram government must probe this with utmost priority. I request the Mizoram Chief Minister to look into this serious issue," Sarma added.
Assam police constable Nagen Mecha, who was injured in Monday's clashes and was shifted from the Silchar Medical College and Hospital (SMCH) to the Gauhati Medical College and Hospital (GMCH) on Wednesday, said that he never thought that the Mizoram police will open fire on them, not even in his dreams.
"Me and my colleagues have been part of Assam police for many years, performing duty in the border areas. Occasionally we faced some troubles and attacks by miscreants, but we never foresaw that the Mizoram police will attack us," Mecha said before being shifted to Guwahati.
Arun Roy, another injured Assam police rifleman undergoing treatment at the SMCH, said that on Monday, a large number of Mizo youth carrying bamboo sticks and lathis had pushed them at Dhalai in Lailapur area in the Assam territory, making the situation extremely volatile.
"After an hour, some more Mizo people came to the area and started pelting stones on us, besides destroying three vehicles, including the Deputy Commissioner's car.
"Subsequently, some more people brandishing weapons and wearing helmets came to the spot and started firing on Assam police personnel, injuring the Cachar SP and an Inspector Generarl of Police," Roy said.
He added that even when the SPs of Cachar and Kolasib district (Mizoram) were talking to each other, armed civilians from Mizoram accompanied by the police continued firing on the Assam police personnel.
Another injured Assam police constable, Gopi Kanta Sinha, said that they were shocked as they always felt that the police personnel of the two states were friends and brothers.
"We still can't understand why the Mizo police and the armed civilians opened fired on us. We never misbehaved with them," Sinha said.
The injured Assam policemen and other senior officers said that they could have also hit back at the Mizo force, but they restrained themselves and retreated from the trouble areas.
Jamil Ahmed, a trader who has business in both Assam's Cachar district and in Mizoram, said that such border incidents would harm the business of the traders of the two states.
"Not only the traders, but the common people of the two states would also face difficulty in procuring essentials and various utilities if such clashes continue. Top executives of the two state governments must sit together immediately to resolve the crisis," Ahmed told IANS.
Dulal Bhuiyan, a construction worker, said that hundreds of workers and labourers from southern Assam would be affected by the border disputes, as they frequently go to Mizoram for various government and private works.
"Many workers from Mizoram also visit southern Assam and Meghalaya for various works. What will their condition be? The common people are always the victims of such major incidents," Bhuiyan told IANS.
Northern Mizoram's Aizawl, Kolasib and Mamit districts share 164.6 km borders with southern Assam's Cachar, Karimganj and Hailakandi districts.
Thousands of families belonging to the two states live on either sides of the inter-state borders and many of them have petty shops, farm lands and other assets, while some run vehicles ferrying people and materials between the two states.
Meanwhile, Mizoram Chief Minister Zoramthanga on Wednesday urged the people to maintain peace and calm.
"I sincerely request all to stay calm and promote peace in this time of great difficulty. Mizoram hopes for an amicable solution with the help of intervention from the Central government," he tweeted.
Mizoram Home Secretary, Pi Lalbiaksangi, on Wednesday sent a letter to the Union Home Secretary on the "economic blockade by Assam from Monday" and "destruction" of railway lines affecting the supply of essentials and foodgrains to Mizoram.
(Sujit Chakraborty can be contacted at [email protected])