Mizoram Rajya Sabha member K. Vanlalvena was stopped at the Mizoram-Assam border, purportedly for security reasons, as he was headed towards Muolmawi (Baruatilla) in Assam’s Karimganj district to attend a function on Thursday.
The MP was to grace a cultural meet organised by the Thangram Indigenous People’s Movement (TIPM), a conglomerate of the Zo ethnic people of Assam living near the Mizoram border.
Vanlalvena said he was blocked by security personnel near the place where the inter-state border dispute had flared up in August last year.
The security personnel did not cite any reason for the interception and told the MP that they were told to do so by higher authorities, Vanlalvena said.
Expressing disappointment over the incident, Vanlalvena said, “The security personnel and police refused to let me move ahead towards Muolmawi. As a citizen of India and as an MP, I have the right to go to any place in the country and attend a function there.”
However, the MP was released to attend the festival for two hours and returned to Mizoram in the evening, an MNF leader told this reporter later.
Representatives of Mizoram’s apex student body Mizo Zirlai Pawl (MZP) also attended the festival.
The TIPM organised the Thangram cultural meet at Muolmawi (Baruatilla), under the jurisdiction of Ratabari police station in Karimganj district, to foster brotherhood ties among the Zo indigenous people.
The cultural meet was scheduled to end Thursday night.
Organisation’s president K. Vana Chorei said they had sought permission from the district administration through a written application on February 17 for organising the cultural meet.
They were disappointed to learn the district administration rejecting their plea, which was intimated by an order on Wednesday night, he said.
The Karimganj district administration in its order issued on Wednesday said that permission for organising the Thangram cultural meet at Muolmawi (Baruatilla) could not be accorded due to border dispute and ongoing tense situation at the Assam-Mizoram inter-state border.
“In this scenario, if any group delegates from Mizoram attend this cultural programme, it may create tussle between that group/delegates and locals, which may result in any law and order situation as per the report submitted by the Superintendent of Police, Karimganj,” the order said.
The TIPM had last year expressed willingness to include their villages within Mizoram.
On 7 August last year, border dispute between Mizoram and Assam had flared up when officials of Karimganj district administration, accompanied by state police, allegedly set fire to a farm hut and damaged several plantations on the disputed land near Thinghlun village in west Mizoram’s Mamit district.
Several people were injured and about 20 bamboo stalls erected along National Highway-306 by residents of Lailapur in Assam’s Cachar district were burnt down in a clash between residents of the two states on August 17 last year.
To mount pressure on the Mizoram government to withdraw its forces from what they claimed the Assam border, locals from Assam staged a blockade on NH-306, the lifeline of Mizoram, which links the state with Cachar district in Assam, forcing the hilly state to import oil and cooking gas from its other neighbour, Manipur.
The crisis was finally resolved in November after central armed forces were deployed on either side of the border, and senior officials of both the states held meetings, chaired by Union Home Secretary Ajay Kumar Bhalla.
However, fresh tension erupted on February 9 this year, when officials of Mizoram Power and Electricity department and a village council member of Bairabi village were beaten up by locals at Zophai area in Koladib bordering Assam’s Hailakandi district.
Mizoram’s three districts – Aizawl, Kolasib and Mamit – share a 164.6-km-long inter-state border with Assam’s Cachar, Hailakandi and Karimganj district.
The border dispute between Mizoram and Assam is a long-standing issue, which remains unresolved till date.