The killing of six persons belonging to Assam police in a clash at the Assam Mizoram border was most tragic. For us, it is just a piece of unfortunate news. But for the members of the bereaved families, it is a bolt from the blue. They never expected this. It is not possible for us to feel their woes and pains.

Now people are saying many things. We are also trying to understand the whole thing rationally. And I think that is the only way out. But think of the families of the dead. This thought is so troubling. How will they cope up with their loss? Someone must be responsible and accountable for this.

Mizoram and Assam are not two separate countries. Both the states belong to the union of India. Border dispute among the neighbouring states is no new thing. When there is a disagreement between two states whose responsibility is it to resolve it? This is very simple. First, both the states should try to resolve it through a process of negotiation.

If it fails, then it is the responsibility of the Government of India to resolve it. If the concerned states are not happy with the decisions of the Government of India, they can even go to the Supreme Court of India for its resolution. But under no circumstances, the states can entangle themselves in a physical fight. That the situation does not escalate to that level must be ensured by the Central Government.

So who is responsible for the trouble at the Assam Mizoram border between the forces of both the states? Three parties are responsible for this- both the state governments and the Government of India. The burden of responsibility weighs high on the Central Government because they are the arbitrating authority. So the main culprit is the central government.  The resolution of the dispute may take longer. But how come you allow the situation to worsen like this?

Why has this happened? It is not very difficult to find out. If we carefully observe the utterances of the chief minister of Assam, we shall understand this. What is he saying? Is he saying things which befit his position? Then, is there some coherence in what he is saying? No, nothing. He is not speaking the language of a chief minister. The chief minister is the highest constitutional functionary in the state. What he speaks and does must be in consonance with the spirit of the constitution. He must not speak anything which is discriminatory, derogatory to any section of people.

We have observed that in recent times the decline of rule of law has greatly affected the governance in the country. One is so closely linked with the other. How come the chief minister of a state can say anything and everything what comes to his mind and mouth? The chief minister can say all kinds of things because he has scant respect for constitutional values.

Constitutional values are nothing but the principles of rule of law. Now when rule of law has adhered to the governance is bound to suffer. Good governance does not mean taking actions arbitrarily. It is taking actions according to constitutional values and rule of law. When that is done, its effects will surely benefit the common people. When it is ignored the preferences and priorities of the state also change. Then, urgent issues affecting the life of the common people remain unattended or delayed. They are left to be resolved may be locally and automatically. But when things get out of hand and explode, then the people at the top do not know how to react and what to do.

Why such serious issues are not tackled urgently with due diligence? As said earlier these are not the priorities of the present dispensation at the state as well as the centre. Now only concern of the ruling party seems to be winning elections. This is the most worrying thing. All their strategies and actions are aimed at that. If they do good things for people and bring in quality in governance and promote rule of law, and people vote for them we have absolutely nothing against them. But they are doing just the opposite and in the process, they have weakened the very foundation of our republic.

The latest is this border clash. Again have we heard anything from the department of home, the government of India on this tragic incident? Shouldn’t the department of home issue a comprehensive statement on the Assam Mizoram border clash where six people have lost their life?  Have we heard anything from the union home minister? Nothing, because that is their policy. When things go wrong they disappear from the scene. They don’t have the moral courage to own up to the responsibility. When you don’t admit your mistakes you cannot correct them. Why should there not be a judicial inquiry to find out the causes of the flare-up?  We must demand it.

The reactions and responses of a section of people and the media are also unsavoury. There is a tendency to incite anti-Mizo sentiments. This is not a clash between the Assamese and Mizo people. Please don’t blame it on them.  The blame should go to the three governments. And most importantly the Central Government is answerable and accountable for this tragedy.

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Paresh Malakar

Paresh Malakar is a commentator based in Guwahati. He can be reached at: malakarparesh@gmail.com