Aizawl, July 17: In a strong rebuttal to the Assam chief minister’s allegation that nearly 1,800 hectares of Assam’s land are encroached by Mizoram, the neighboring state claimed that it did not encroach even an inch of Assam’s territory.
Mizoram chief secretary Lalnunmawia Chuaungo said no encroachment has been made by Mizoram in the territory of Assam.
“Assam is laying claims on Mizoram’s territories, which the residents of border villages have been occupying for the past 100 plus years. Satellite images will prove that what Assam claims to be its territories have been inhabited by the Mizos for over a century. No encroachment by Mizoram on Assam’s territory. It is the other way round,” Chuaungo said.
He alleged that the Assamese officials have made encroachment on Mizoram’s territories under the supervision of Assam police and forest officials from June to July this year in despise of the decision to maintain the status quo on the disputed areas.
“The filing of a lawsuit by the Assam government against Mizoram officials is just a gimmick to cover up their massive encroachment on Mizoram’s territories,” the chief secretary said.
Earlier on Thursday, a top official of Mizoram’s home department had said that the bone of contention between Mizoram and Assam is that they have their own versions on boundaries.
While Mizoram accepts the 509 square-mile stretches of the inner-line reserve forest notified in 1875 under the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation of 1873 as its actual boundary, the Assam side agrees with the constitutional map drawn in 1933, she said.
She had said that the 1933 map was an imposed boundary as Mizoram’s consent was not taken at the time of demarcation and the boundaries were not verified on the ground jointly by both the states.
She had said that the areas claimed by Assam as its territories have been occupied by the Mizos for over a hundred years.
“If Assam accuses us of encroaching on its land, we can also accuse it of encroaching on our land as a vast tract of inner line reserve forest are occupied by Assam,” the official had said on condition of anonymity.
On Monday, Assam chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma had informed the state legislature that a total of 1,777.58 hectares of land in the Barak Valley region have been taken over by encroachers from Mizoram.
The Assam government had also filed a suit before a court in Cachar district on Thursday against certain officials of the Mizoram government over the alleged encroachment of its forest land and intentional destruction of forests across the state border.
Meanwhile, Mizoram Kolasib district deputy commissioner Dr. H. Lalthlangliana said they did not encroach on Assam’s territory but protecting their land which they have been occupying from time immemorial.
Though the situation along the inter-state border is normal now, it is still tense, he said. Mizoram shares about a 164.6 km long border with Assam.
The recent border dispute flared up on June 29 when both accused encroachment on each other lands on the disputed land at Aitlang hnar near Vairengte, which borders Assam’s Hailakandi district.
Tension escalated when Assam officials allegedly destroyed some plantations at Buarchep in Phainuam area bordering Assam’s Cachar district on July 10 during eviction as Assam accused the Mizos of encroaching more than 6 km on its land. Both the neighboring states have deployed forces to prevent further encroachment on either side.