A day after policemen from Assam and Mizoram faced-off on the inter-state border, Mizoram’s Home Minister R Lalzirliana visited the disputed area Wednesday and said Assam’s Police, forest officials and locals “acted like a band of dacoits”. He also asked the Mizoram Police stationed there “not to hesitate to use guns if necessary, nor show mercy to the thieves”.
Lalzirliana visited the area along with Forest Minister Lalrinmawia Ralte, two Parliamentary Secretaries and top Mizoram Police officials. A third platoon of armed police from Mizoram’s 1st IR battalion has been deployed in the area and emissaries have been sent to Hailakandi, the headquarters of Hailakandi district in southern Assam.
“No government or band of dacoits should henceforth destroy houses, steal animals or trample on crops within Mizoram,” Lalzirliana said.
Assam Police and forest department personnel had along with locals from Assam on Sunday dismantled four Mizo houses on farmland near Buhchang village in Mizoram’s Kolasib district. Earlier, on April 23, the same people had taken 50 planks of timber and several domestic animals from the area.
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On both occasions Mizo farmers were ‘threatened’ to leave the area as Assam Police claimed it belonged to their state’s 21st IR battalion camp.
The Mizoram government had responded on Monday by sending two platoons of armed police to patrol the area and had registered a case of dacoity against the Assam personnel. The Mizo community, meanwhile, rebuilt their dismantled farmhouses.
On Tuesday, however, Assam Police entered the area for a second time and dismantled the houses as the Mizoram Police were affecting a change of guard.
Mizoram once again responded by sending a platoon of armed police headed by 1st IR battalion commandant C Lalzahngova to the area.
Lalzirliana on Wednesday also gave the owners of the dismantled houses Rs 30,000 and three bundles of tin-roofing material each.
Opposition parties and voluntary organisations in Mizoram have taken exception to the incidents and condemned the government for its “slow response”.
The Mizoram Congress party, meanwhile wrote to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Union Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde, Congress president Sonia Gandhi and Assam’s Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi on Wednesday.
In the letter they said Mizoram’s party heads “condemn the recent actions of Assam officials” and called for the “immediate intervention of the Central Government… otherwise the Mizoram Government will be compelled to reciprocate the Assam Government’s action.” Both states are ruled by the Congress.