AIZAWL: Days after the Chief Minister Office (CMO) and ruling Mizo National Front (MNF) denied allegations linking chief minister Zoramthanga to an Assamese trader accused of smuggling dried areca nuts from Myanmar, the state BJP on Wednesday claimed that the accused was part of the Mizoram team at the dinner between chief ministers of Mizoram and Assam held in Delhi last year. 

The BJP’s statement reportedly confirmed from an MLA in Assam has turned the issue into controversy and political vendetta with opposition parties targeting at Zoramthanga’s government for its alleged involvement in areca nut smuggling. 

A Silchar-based online news portal had on February 5 reported that Abu Mazumdar,  a resident of Silchar in Assam’s Cachar district and close ally of the Mizoram government, has participated at the dinner between Zoramthanga and his Assam counterpart Himanta Biswa Sarma in Delhi recently.

The house of Mazumdar in Silchar ‘s Itkhola area was recently raided by police in connection with smuggling of Burmese supari, the report had said.

The report had also alleged that Mazumdar was invited by Zoramthanga at the Delhi dinner as he has a close relationship with the Mizoram government. 

It had said that Mazumdar was searched by police for his alleged involvement in smuggling dried betel nuts from Myanmar. 

Earlier on Monday, the CMO and MNF refuted the report and claimed that Mazumdar was invited by Assam chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma to the dinner party. 

The dinner was held on the sidelines of the border talks in November last year as a goodwill gesture. 

The CMO had claimed that the dinner was hosted by Assam chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma at Asam House in New Delhi on the night of November 25 last year. 

Barring Mizoram House resident commissioner, Officer on Special Duty (OSD) to the chief minister and additional personal secretary to the CM, no other officials from Mizoram accompanied Zoramthanga to the dinner, the CMO had also claimed. 

It had said that Mazumdar might have been invited by the Assam chief minister. 

Meanwhile, the state BJP, in its attempt to reveal the truth, on Wednesday approached to Assam secretary to the CM and MLA Mr. Jyanta Malla Barua, who confirmed that Mazumdar was part of the Mizoram team during the dinner, the party said in its statement.

Barua also informed that Mazumdar is under police scanner in connection with smuggling racket and is currently at large, the BJP said.

The BJP said that the Assam government would not have attempted to arrest Mazumdar nor the accused would have absconded if he was part of the Assam team at the dinner. 

It has accused the MNF government headed by Zoramthanga of being deeply involved in the smuggling of areca nuts from Myanmar.

“The fact that areca nut smuggler Abu Mazumdar absconding from his residence and Assam police is running after him has clearly revealed that the Mizoram government was involved in areca nuts smuggling,” the BJP said.

It further asked the state government to reveal the truth.

State Congress treasurer and MLA Zodintluanga also alleged that Mazumdar was a close ally of Zoramthanga. 

Addressing a party meeting in south Mizoram’s Lunglei town on Wednesday, the Congress leader said the CMO’s clarification over nexus with Mazumdar has fallen flat before the public because the fact that the chief minister was dining with the smuggler was already made known to the public.

He said that Mazumdar had applied for a supply of rice bags to Mizoram in the past and the erstwhile Congress government had rejected him.

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