A theft case has been filed against personnel of Assam police for allegedly stealing away construction materials belonging to Mizoram from the inter-state border area, an official said on Sunday.

Kolasib deputy commissioner H. Lalthlangliana said that personnel of Assam police have entered Mizoram territory at Zophai area near Bairabi town in Kolasib district which borders Assam’s Hailakandi district and allegedly stole some construction materials, including iron rods, from a bridge construction site.

The incident occurred on Friday when workers were constructing a bridge to connect the main road with the paddy field belonging to Mizoram’s Chief Minister Ch. Chhunga, he claimed.

The bridge construction was a government project, he said.

The Assam police created problems with the workers and even stole some construction materials, including iron rods, from the construction site, the DC alleged.

“A police case against theft of construction materials has been filed against them (Assam Police) at Bairabi police station in connection with the incident,” he said.

The Kolasib DC also on Saturday wrote to his Hailakandi counterpart informing the latter about the incident and urging him to take necessary action.

In his letter, Lalthlangliana said the incident or bridge construction should not be linked to boundary issues as it is solely the ongoing construction work by the government just to connect the existing main road within Mizoram territory.

“However, government servant committing an act that can be interpreted as theft towards government property is very disappointing and considered very serious,” the letter reads.

The Kolasib DC also sought his Hailakandi counterpart’s cooperation towards maintaining peace and tranquility along the inter-state border.

However, sources from Bairabi said that the construction materials were handed over to the workers by Assam police on Sunday.

Bairabi’s Zophai area is one of the flashpoints of a border dispute between Mizoram and Assam.

A violent flare-up had erupted in the area in March 2018 when functionaries of Mizoram’s apex student body Mizo Zirlai Pawl (MZP) attempted to construct a wooden resting shed at an area as claimed by MZP belonged to Ch. Chhunga.

More than 60 people, including 7 journalists from Mizoram, were injured when Assam police had allegedly resorted to lathi-charge and opened fire to disperse the protesting students.

The journalists with their press credentials were for ground reporting.

Mizoram’s three districts-Aizawl, Kolasib and Mamit share about 164.6 km boundary with Assam’s Hailakandi, Cachar and Karimganj districts.

The border dispute between the two neighbouring states turned “ugly” on July 26 when police forces of both states engaged in over 40-minute gun battle leaving seven people from Assam dead and more than 60 people from both states injured.

6 Assam police personnel were among those killed in the violent clash.

Although both the states have agreed to maintain peace and amicably resolve the border dispute through dialogue during a bilateral talk on August 5, the situation along the inter-state border is still tense due to sporadic incidents like bombing on school and firing towards civilians ensued after  July 26 violent clash.

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