Assam-Mizoram border row: two more blasts occur

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(Eds: Updating with fresh inputs) Guwahati/Aizawl, Jul 11 (PTI) A day after a suspected IED blast was carried out inside Cachar district of Assam allegedly by miscreants from Mizoram during an eviction drive, two back to back explosions took place on Sunday along the inter-state border on the side of the neighbouring state, an Assam police source said.

Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma has written to his Mizoram counterpart Zoramthanga about the incidents that occurred a few days after a high-level meeting between top officials of the two states was held in New Delhi.

Tension is running high in Khulicherra area of the district, where people from Mizoram have reportedly entered up to 6.5 kilometres inside Assam land a few days ago, following which the Assam Police along with civil administration carried out an eviction drive.

'Two blast sounds were heard coming from the Mizoram side at 2.40 am and 2.43 am. The CRPF, which is a neutral force deployed at Khulicherra Point-II, has been asked to enquire into the suspected blasts on the Mizoram side,' an Assam Police source told PTI.

The situation is at present normal although tension still prevails and Assam Police personnel are in alert position in the entire border area, he added.

Additional Director General of Police (Border) of Assam, Harmeet Singh, is camping at the spot.

On Saturday, an explosion took place targeting a delegation of Assam government officials, including senior police officials, who were on a visit to oversee the construction of a road along the border, but no casualty was reported in the incident.

Initially it was believed to be a grenade attack but the police later suspected that the miscreants used an IED, the source said.

The Mizoram CM, however, retweeted a report which said that no grenade was hurled in the area on Saturday and the sound was of the bursting of a tyre of an excavator.

Meanwhile, Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said that he has written to Zoramthanga to settle the border dispute by using satellite mapping of the actual border locations.

'For complete peace, we should hand over the inter- state border to central police forces after we fix the border issue. We are building roads within the Constitutional boundary of Assam. We will not take an inch of land from Mizoram,' he added.

A high-level meeting attended by chief secretaries and DGPs of Assam and Mizoram was held in New Delhi on July 9.

'A border issue dialogue with Mizoram CS L Chuanga & DGP SBK Singh was recently held in Delhi. Assam was represented by Chief Secretary Shri Jishnu Baruah & us. The goal was to bring about amicable solution to the festering border issues,' Assam DGP Bhaskar Jyoti Mahanta tweeted.

'While we display great restraint on ground, I request our Mizo brethren not to attack people or officials or bomb schools and such in Assam. @assampolice stands to help the Forest and District Authorities protect the constitutional boundaries of the state,' he said in the tweet on Sunday.

There has been a long border dispute between Assam and Mizoram in that area along with other locations in Cachar, Hailakandi and Karimganj districts of the Barak valley.

The latest tussle started on Saturday when around 25- 30 people from Mizoram came up to 25 metres ahead of Khulicherra CRPF camp and tried to encroach the land inside Assam, attempting to stop the forest track clearing work and prevent PWD officials from constructing a road, a senior police official said.

'On receiving the information, the police rushed to the spot and observed that Mizo people, including women, obstructed the route at Khulicherra leading towards Upper Painom LP school which is around 6.5 kilometres inside Assam- Mizoram border.

'The crowd swelled up to 50-60 civilians. Around the same time, one Additional SP rank officer of the Mizoram Police arrived at the spot and he was asked to remove the illegal encroachment by Mizo people. However, the obstruction was not removed,' the official told PTI.

Assam Police officers then announced over loudspeakers that their congregation inside Assam territory is illegal and they should disperse peacefully, but they remained aggressive, he claimed.

'They had also erected wooden barricades, preventing legitimate movement. After the persuasion attempts were not responded positively, Assam Police personnel moved ahead to clear the encroached land using minimum force.

'As a result, the encroachment up to the first bridge over Dholakhal Khulicherra stream was cleared and a temporary camp has been set up,' the official said.

He said that the superintendent of police and Additional SPs of Kolasib district on the other side of the border were called for a discussion and asked to stop these incursions but it was not implemented by them on the ground.

The Mizoram police have also set up a temporary camp on the other side of the bridge, he said.

Last year, a school of upper Painam was bombed allegedly by miscreants from Mizoram badly damaging it.

Mizoram shares about 164.6 km long border with Assam.

The northeastern state was part of Assam until 1972, when it was carved out as a Union Territory.

Mizoram became the 23rd state of India on 20 February 1987 following the historic Mizoram Accord between the erstwhile underground Mizo National Front (MNF) and the Centre, which ended 20 years of insurgency in the state. PTI TR NN NN

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