By Henry L Khojol, EastMojo
Tension escalated along the Mizoram-Assam border after eight farm huts belonging to Mizo farmers were burned down by unidentified miscreant(s) on Sunday night, a senior police officer said on Monday. The incident came a day after the meeting of chief ministers of Northeastern states chaired by Union Home Minister Amit Shah in Shillong, during which the border issues took centrestage.
Mizoram Deputy Inspector-General of Police (Northern Range) Lalbiakthanga Khiangte said that at least eight unoccupied farm huts near Aitlang stream in the trouble-torn area were set ablaze by unidentified miscreants at around 11:30 pm on Sunday. He said the farm huts belonged to farmers from Vairengte village, the Mizoram border village nearest to Assam.
A police team led by Kolasib district additional superintendent of police and deputy commanding officer of first Indian Reserve Battalion rushed to the spot and confirmed that the huts were unoccupied, Khiangte said.
Complaints have been lodged by owners of the huts at Vairengte police station and investigation into the incident is on, he said.
The situation along the Mizoram-Assam border has been tense since June end when Assam police allegedly seized Aitlang hnar, about 5 km from Vairengte, accusing the neighbouring state of encroaching on its territory.
Several crops and betel nut trees belonging to a Mizo farmer were allegedly damaged during the â€śeviction driveâ€ť as claimed by Assam police and officials at Buarchep near Phainuam village on July 10.
A grenade was allegedly hurled on an Assam government team visiting the border by suspected miscreants from Mizoram on July 10.
However, the allegation was denied by Mizoram claiming it was bursting of an earthmoverâ€™s tyre.
Both the states have also been blaming each other on two back-to-back explosions heard across the border in the wee hours on July 11.
A chief-secretary level meeting of both states held in Delhi on July 9 had ended inconclusive.
Both the state forces are currently camping on either side of the border.
Earlier on July 24, Chief Minister Zoramthanga had raised the Mizoram-Assam border issue during a meeting of chief ministers of Northeastern states chaired by Amit Shah in Shillong.
He informed the Union Home Minister that the issue of border disputes among the Northeast states is a legacy of the colonial era.
Zoramthanga had also said that the large tract of areas claimed by Assam to be within its constitutional boundary has been used for collection of forest produces and for shifting and settled cultivation for more than 100 years by the people of Mizoram.
He had alleged that Assam started claiming these areas only fairly recently due to population pressure apparently caused by large scale influx of migrants from outside Barak valley.
Mizoram shares about 164.6 km long inter-state border with neighbouring Assam.
The boundary dispute between the two neighbouring states is a long pending issue that remains unresolved till date.
While the BJP is currently in power in Assam, Mizoram is ruled by the Mizo National Front (MNF), a constituent of the BJP-led North East Democratic Alliance (NEDA).