Fresh tension on Mizoram border
A government school was damaged in a blast in Assam’s Cachar district on Friday night, the attack further fanning tension triggered by the ongoing inter-state border standoff with Mizoram.
The development saw Assam chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal calling Union home minister Amit Shah on Saturday, requesting the Central government to take necessary steps to maintain peace and harmony in the border areas while assuring that Dispur would follow the directives of the Centre in managing the situation.
Union home secretary Ajay Kumar Bhalla on Sunday afternoon held a joint video conference with the chief secretaries and DGPs of Assam and Mizoram to restore normalcy along the disputed border. Sources said all “recent” developments were discussed and that a “positive outcome” is expected in a couple of days. The day also saw SSB personnel deployed on the Assam side turn away a delegation led by leader of Opposition Debabrata Saikia to the border, about 3km from the Vairengte check gate, the officially recognised border between the two states.
Earlier, MHA joint secretary, northeast, Satyendra Garg had visited both the states.
The Upper Painom Lower Primary School is the second school government school at Khulicherra to have been targetted in the area since October 24.
Mizoram claims the area to be theirs.
“The Painom school is 3km inside the inter-state border and about 2km from Khulicherra in Cachar district. There has been no casualty since it was closed because of Covid. We are investigating the matter,” said Cachar SP Bhanwar Lal Meena.
On the school bombing, locals and officials of the adjoining districts of Kolasib (Mizoram) and Cachar (Assam) are pointing fingers at miscreants from across the border.
The government of Mizoram in a statement on Saturday vehemently “condemned such a dastardly act on an institution of learning and that too within its boundaries. A case has been registered at Vairengte police station.” The statement also said a police team and a forensic team left for the blast site before 2am.
The attack came hours before the 12-hour bandh called by the All Assam Cachar Karimganj Students’ Association in protest against the death of a Intiaz Ali Laskar, 48, hailing from Cachar’s Lailapur in custody of Mizoram excise and narcotics department on November 2.
Mizoram claimed that Laskar was a drug peddler, Assam asserts he had gone to fetch firewood in forest. Around 50 picketeers were detained across the three districts of Barak Valley but the bandh passed off peacefully.
There has been tension in the inter-state border area since October 17 following accusation by Cachar residents that Mizoram has entered 3km inside Assam territory.
Mizoram claims they are in their territory. However, small issues led to a flare-up on October 20 when locals of Lailapur in Cachar district clashed with Vairengte locals and they responded by burning down temporary stalls and huts at Lailapur, 3km inside Cachar.
The Centre had to intervene to calm tempers on October 22 but it resurfaced again on October 28 with Lailapur locals demanding withdrawal of Mizoram security personnel from the area. Movement of trucks carrying essentials have been disrupted since despite efforts by both government to restore normalcy.
The death of Laskar and the bomb attack on the two schools is likely to delay restoration of peace, residents said, even though the Central government has sanctioned two companies of Sashastra Seema Bal to Assam and three companies of Border Security Force to Mizoram for deployment along the border.
Senior home department officials of both states told The Telegraph that they are in the process of deploying the forces.
Mahila Congress president Sushmita Dev, hailing from Cachar district, tweeted on Saturday, “The situation on the Assam Mizoram border is volatile. Land has been forcefully occupied & a school has been blown up in my constituency Cachar, Assam by the Mizo miscreants. Assam govt is failing & North East Democratic alliance is a joke,” tagging @AmitShah@himantabiswa@sarbanandsonwal.”
Chief minister Sonowal reviewed the prevailing situation of Assam-Mizoram border at a meeting with chief secretary Jishnu Baruah and DGP Bhaskarjyoti Mahanta. Sonowal directed the top officials to maintain the peaceful environment and keep brotherhood and harmony intact at the Assam-Mizoram border areas.