A group of village councils and leading organisations from villages along the Mizoram-Assam border on Tuesday urged both the Mizoram and Assam governments to immediately arrive at a consensus over the inter-state boundary to put an end to the decades-old imbroglio.
Leaders of joint village councils of Vairengte and all NGOs from the border town and other border villages, including Phainuam and Saipum, on Tuesday addressed media persons over boundary dispute during a press conference in Aizawl.
Vairengte joint village council chairman R. Lalfamkima, who headed the team, said that there can’t be a lasting solution to the vexed border dispute unless there is mutual understanding in respect to the areas, which have been originally or permanently occupied by people on either side.
He said that they wanted to retain the areas previously occupied by them as jhum lands or farms, which have been allegedly encroached upon by people from the other side of the border in recent years.
Citing that solving the boundary dispute based on the 1875 or 1933 notification is practically like “impossible”, Lalfamkima said both the state governments should arrive at a consensus through mutual understanding and respect to demarcate the boundary keeping in mind the areas already occupied by residents on either side.
He said that residents of border villages on both sides always borne the brunt of the border dispute.
Mizoram claimed that the 509 square miles stretch of inner line reserve forest notified during the colonial period in 1875 under the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation of 1873 was the original boundary between Mizoram and Assam.
However, the neighbouring state on its part asserted another colonial notification in 1933 as its “constitutional boundary.”
Also read: Nagaland govt remits sentences of prisoners
The inner line reserve forest was demarcated by the British to protect the tribal people in hill areas from economic and cultural assimilation by people living in plain areas.
Vairengte joint NGO president Zalawta, who accompanied Lalfamkima in the press meet, said that a vast stretch of land, which falls under the inner line reserve forest as per the 1875 notification is now in Assam side hosting more than 4 lakh voters and reclaiming all the inner line areas by Mizoram is now “out of question.”
Similarly, a vast tract of land, including about 200 houses in Vairengte town, which came under the 1933 notification, is already in the Mizoram side and have been occupied by residents for a century and therefore, reclaiming all the areas based on the 88-year-old boundary notification is highly “impracticable,” he said.
He said that the boundary dispute between the two northeastern states can be resolved if both sides step down from their original claim and demarcate the boundary at a certain point acceptable to both states.
Mizoram shares about 164.6 km inter-state border with Assam.
The boundary dispute between the two neighbouring states is a long pending issue which has been unresolved till date.
Sporadic border standoffs since 2018 culminated into a violent clash on July 26 this year when forces of both states exchanged fire leaving at least six Assam police personnel and a civilian dead and more than 50 people injured.