Tension prevailed along the Mizoram-Assam border after a 48-year-old man from South Assam’s Cachar district died in a hospital at Vairengte in Kolasib district on Monday.
The deceased was identified as Intyaz Ali also differently known as Intazul Laskar, a resident of Lailapur in Assam’s Cachar district, police said.
Mizoram Inspector General of Police (Headquarters) John Neihlaia claimed Ali, a well known drug peddler from Lailapur, was caught by volunteers of Young Mizo Association (YMA) when he tried to hand over the drug consignment to two locals in Mautui Zau forest area in Vairengte on Sunday afternoon.
He sustained injuries on both sides of his ankle joints as he jumped down from two gorges while trying to escape from the volunteers.
Later, the YMA volunteers handed Ali over to personnel of Excise and Narcotics department, who booked him under section 21 (a) of Narcotic Drugs & Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985 after the arrest, he said.
He was admitted to a Community Health Centre (CHC) in Vairengte as he appeared to be generally weak, the officer said.
He died at 10:30 am on Monday, IGP Neihlaia said.
In connection with the demise, Vairengte police registered a case for unnatural death on Monday.
According to Neihlaia, inquest and postmortem examination have been done under videography as per the National Human Right Commission (NHRC) guidelines and magisterial enquiry is also being launched.
The body will be handed over to the relative or Assam police on Tuesday, he added.
Denouncing reports in a section of media, Kolasib District Superintendent of Police (SP) Vanlalfaka Ralte claimed that no person laid hands upon him at the time of his arrest and the incident does not have any connection with the present border standoff.
He claimed that Ali was well known as a drug peddler.
Meanwhile, Cachar district SP Bhanwar Lal Meena has written to his Kolasib counterpart asking him to investigate the case and follow all the NHRC guidelines applicable in the case of custodial death.
The deceased relatives also alleged that he had gone missing from a forest area where he went to collect wood and a case was registered at the Dholai police station.
Silchar Mizoram House Liaison Officer (LO) Saizikpuii said that she has appealed to the Mizos living in the town to take shelter in the house as a precautionary measure.
She said that 11 oil tankers and 6 LPG trucks stranded in Silchar are also currently taking shelter in the house.
According to LO, the Cachar district administration provided them additional 3 Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel and 6 policemen apart from the existing 4 CRPF jawans.
The situation in Silchar was calm till late Monday night, she said.
However, a few Mizoram residents have fled to Jiribam in neighbouring Manipur for fear of communal clash, she added.
Meanwhile, Mizoram home secretary Lalbiaksangi has written to her Assam counterpart asking the official to ensure the safety and security of the Mizo communities living in Assam especially the Mizoram House in Silchar and stranded Mizo drivers in the wake of tension triggered by the demise of Ali.
In a letter, Lalbiaksangi urged Assam home commissioner and secretary to prevent any possible retaliatory actions by vested interests in Assam, especially along the inter-state border.
“I would like to request you to ensure the safety and security of the Mizo communities living within Assam especially the safety and security of Mizoram House, Silchar, including the stranded highly inflammable trucks and tankers and the various Mission Compounds within Cachar, Karimganj and Hailakandi districts,” reads the letter.
The Mizoram home department also wrote to Silchar Mizoram House Liaison Officer to take measure for safety and security of the Mizo communities living in the town.