Mizoram, Nov 18: Mizoram government resumed construction work on its disputed border, claiming it was merely following its larger neighbour Assam lead.
This came two days after a Joint Action Committee (JAC) urged the Centre and Mizoram government to revoke the order directing border districts to maintain the status quo and stop construction activities along the state border with Assam.
State home minister Lalchamliana informed the meeting of State Boundary Committee that the deputy commissioners of the districts of Kolasib and Mamit, which share a border with Assam, have been instructed to resume development projects including construction work in border areas on Wednesday as Assam has not stopped its construction activities along the inter-state border.
The home minister also suggested that the two neighbouring states should hold a bilateral political dialogue to resolve the long-pending border dispute.
On November 5, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) sent advisories to Mizoram and Assam to maintain the status quo on the disputed areas along the inter-state border.
Following the MHA advisory, the Mizoram home department had on November 8 instructed the deputy commissioners of Kolasib and Mamit to maintain the status quo and refrain from undertaking any construction activities on the disputed areas along the Mizoram- Assam border.
Eventually, the two district administrations had partly halted construction activities on November 11.
Mizoram has been constructing roads and bridges in order to link police posts and camps in the border areas after a standoff between the two states, which led to the death of seven people.
On November 15, a locally influential body – the JAC on Inner Line Reserve Forest Demand – had served an ultimatum to the Mizoram government to withdraw the order to stop construction on the border within 72 hours.
The Aizawl based JAC also urged the Centre to revoke its advisory alleging it was “one-sided and biased” because Assam has allegedly continued its construction activities along the inter-state border despite the advisory.
Meanwhile, the meeting of Mizoram State Boundary Committee chaired by its chairman and Deputy Chief Minister Tawnluia on Wednesday unanimously agreed that both Mizoram and Assam governments should hold a political dialogue to resolve the decades-old boundary dispute.
The meeting also resolved that the inner line reserved forest notified under the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation (1873) in 1875 should be the basis for demarcation between Mizoram and Assam.
The meeting also discussed at length the draft approach paper to be tabled before the Manohar Parrikar Institute for Defense Studies and Analyses (MP-IDSA) team when it visits the state this month-end.
State chief secretary Renu Sharma, who participated in the meeting, said that all efforts would be made to resolve the border dispute keeping in mind what is best for Mizoram.
Mizoram’s three districts- Aizawl, Kolasib and Mamit share a 164.6 km long boundary with Assam’s Cachar, Hailakandi and Karimganj district.
Both states have differing interpretations of their territorial border. While Mizoram believes that its border lies along an ‘inner line‘ drawn up in 1875 to protect tribals from outside influence, Assam goes by a district demarcation done in the 1930s.
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.