Mizoram-Assam border issue: Stranded trucks likely to resume movement after Centre's intervention

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(Eds: Adding inputs) Aizawl, Oct 30 (PTI) Movement of trucks between Assam and Mizoram was likely to resume on Friday after the Centre brokered a high-level meeting between the two states for allowing the stranded vehicles to resume their journey, an official statement said here.

However, the deputy commissioner of Kolasib district in Mizoram H Lalthlangliana said that no truck had entered the state from Assam till 6 pm.

The issue of road bloackade put up by locals at Lailapur in Assam on National Highway 306 was discussed at a virtual meeting of the chief secretaries of Mizoram and Assam which was presided over by Union Home Secretary Ajay Kumar Bhalla on Thursday, the statement said.

Reports said that the locals of Lailapur and surrounding villages in Assam's Cachar district had erected the blockade on NH-306, linking the two states, because Mizoram had 'refused' to withdraw its forces from the border areas.

Vairengte in Mizorams Kolasib district is the northern fringe of the state through which the National Highway 306 passes. The nearest village in Assam is Lailapur.

Bhalla had urged both the chief secretaries to withdraw forces from their respective border areas to restore peace among the people living there.

Several people were injured in a clash that occurred between the people of the two states, during which several makeshift huts were torched on October 17.

The Kolasib district deputy commissioner had said that a large number of Vairengte residents had assembled when some people from Assam, armed with sticks and dao, hurled stones at a group near an auto-rickshaw stand on the outskirts of the border village on October 17.

The mob from Vairengte retaliated and set on fire about 20 temporary bamboo huts and stalls built along the national highway by residents of Lailapur despite a prohibitory order being in place, he said.

Earlier too, trucks had been stranded on both sides of the border after the October 17 clash.

However, movement of trucks carrying essential items had resumed a day after Assam and Mizoram had agreed to restore peace and normalcy on the inter-state boundary on October 21.

Mizoram Chief Secretary Lalnunmawia Chuaungo said at Thursday's meeting that a few policemen were deployed in the border area to instil confidence among the people and avoid any untoward incident.

'Therefore, withdrawing them from the disputed areas is technically unthinkable and not possible as long as local residents on the other side of the border are carrying out activities, which could harm public harmony and create panic,' the statement said.

As a confidence-building measure, the Mizoram government had already withdrawn its forces from near Lailapur village as per the decision of the meeting convened by Union Home additional secretary (Northeast) Satyendra Garg after the flare-up near Vairengte village on October 17, the chief secretary said.

It was decided at the meeting that the disputed areas should not be visited by any official from either side without the knowledge of the district administrations concerned.

It was also agreed upon that meetings at the district administration level should be held regularly for better coordination, the statement said.

Meanwhile Mizoram Home Minister Lalchamliana has said that the government would not withdraw its forces from the state border with Assam till normalcy returns.

The Home minister said that the Mizoram government accepted the demarcation notified in 1875 under the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation (BEFR) of 1873 as the actual boundary of Mizoram and Assam.

It was a historical boundary of the state which has been accepted since the forefathers of Mizos, he said.

Mizoram shares a 164.6-km border with Assam. Several dialogues held since 1995 to resolve the boundary problem have yielded little results. PTI COR MM MM MM