Tension along the Mizoram-Assam border escalated again on Tuesday when personnel of Assam police guarding the border have allegedly shot at three civilians, including two women, from Mizoram while they were trying to pick up foodstuffs from the neighbouring state, an official said.
Kolasib Deputy Commissioner H. Lalthlangliana said that the incident occurred at around 2 am on Tuesday at the disputed Aitlang Tlangpui area bordering Assam’s Hailakandi district when three residents of Vairengte town went to the area to take normal supply of meat from their friend identified as Nibus, a resident of Bilaipur in Assam, who invited them to come.
The three civilians were identified as Lalchhandama, Lalduhawmi and Vanlalrovi, all from Hall Veng in Vairengte, he said.
On reaching the place, the three Mizoram residents heard a loud whistle from Nibus, who was also at the border point, and when they whistle back in response, Assam police personnel, who guarded the border in Assam side, suddenly opened fire towards the three civilians, he alleged.
The Deputy Commissioner said that Lalduhawmi has sustained minor injury on her arm while the three of them were running away for safety.
Lalchhandama and Vanlalrovi have escaped unhurt, he said.
However, Hailakandi Deputy Commissioner Rohan Kumar Jha said that the Assam Police personnel had to open fire in self-defence.
“It was the Mizos, who fired first at Assam police. Assam Police personnel had to open fire in self-defence. No injuries reported yet,” DC Jha told Northeast Now on the telephone from Hailakandi.
He said that Lalduhawmi was released from Vairengte hospital after being administered first aid.
Lalthlangliana said that the incident, which occurred at this critical time when both states are finding solutions to de-escalate tension, has been taken “seriously.”
He also urged people to respect the government’s advisory not to visit the border area at this point of time till peace or normalcy is restored.
Meanwhile, the Kolasib DC has written to his Hailakandi counterpart urging him to look into the matter and take immediate action to avoid law and order problems along the inter-state border.
The letter said that such an incident could escalate tension between the two neighbouring states.
In another letter, Lalthlangliana also alleged that about 50 Assam police personnel were seen escorting a road construction at Aitlang on the inter-state border in Assam side on Monday even as road construction from Mizoram side has already been stopped for three days at the request of Hailakandi DC.
The Kolasib DC said that the presence of police forces at the sites caused fear and unrest among civilians in Vairengte.
He urged this Hailakandi counterpart to refrain from such deployment of police forces in the civil works to ensure peace along the inter-state border.
Lalthlangliana further alleged that residents of Bilaipur village were constructing a camp at Aitlang Tlangpui on the disputed area on Tuesday.
“It has come to my notice based on a reliable report that local villagers from Bilaipur have been constructing a camp at Aitlang Tlangpui; where more than fifty civilians are spotted by an eyewitness on 17th Aug, 2021 around 11:00 am constructing tents in the said location,” another letter written to Hailakandi DC reads.
The letter urged Hailakandi DC to stop the construction in order to avoid law and order problems in the border area.
Mizoram shares a 164.6 km long inter-state border with Assam.
The border dispute between the two neighbouring states turned violent on July 26 when police forces of both sides exchanged fire leaving at least seven people dead and scores injured.
Among the seven people killed in the incident, six were personnel of Assam police.
A ministerial-level meet of both states held in Aizawl on August 5 had agreed to maintain peace and resolve the border dispute amicably through dialogue.
Highly placed sources said that both the state forces are currently camping along with neutral forces in the border areas.