Hello, friends! This is a travel advisory. Have a look:
At a glance, you’d think it is nothing extraordinary. The Indian Government often issues such advisories.”Don’t go to such and such country because of high Covid risk.””Don’t go to such and such country because of high security-related risk.”But the special thing about this advisory is that this advisory hasn’t been issued by the Central Government. Instead, this advisory has been issued by a State Government. Assam’s government has directed the people of Assam to not travel to Mizoram because there’s a threat to their personal safety. Not only this after issuing the travel advisory, but the government of Assam also issued a notice as well. Wherein, all the vehicles entering Assam from Mizoram, would be subject to checking. The government claims that this is being done to stop the illegal drug trade. Additionally, an economic blockade between Mizoram and Assam is also being discussed.
An economic blockade between two states of the same country is in the talks. This wouldn’t be the first inter-state dispute in India. There have been many previous incidents. But the level of the dispute now, the way it is playing out publicly, is unbelievable. The Mizoram police have registered an FIR against the Chief Minister of Assam.
How did the situation worsen so much between these two states?
On 26th July, violent clashes took place in the Assam-Mizoram border. A village in Assam’s Cachar district, and a village in Vairengte, in the Kolasib district of Mizoram. Were the places where the clashes erupted. In these clashes, cross-firing between the police of both states was involved. Can you imagine, the police of one state government, started firing at the police of the other state?
And in these clashes, 5 Assam policemen lost their lives. The Assam government states that Mizoram started to construct a road from Vairengte to the Rengti Basti in Assam. Which caused the Inner Line Reserve Forest area to be destroyed. So the Assamese police had gone there to diffuse the situation. But Mizoram’s police and civilians let the situation escalate. Because of which the situation got out of hand.
This is the perspective of the Assam state government. On the other hand, Mizoram claims that the situation was escalated by the Assam police. Mizoram’s Chief Minister states that the first round of fire came from the Assam police. And they had to fire in self-defense. After this incident, politicians from both sides gave some provoking speeches. For example, an MP from Mizoram said that the Assam Police is lucky that all of them weren’t killed. On the other hand, in Assam’s Cachar district, a BJP MLA said that if Assam were to continue an economic blockade against Mizoram, then the people of Mizoram would starve to death.
Can you imagine a politician of one state talking about starving the people of another state to death? In an interview with India Today, the Chief Secretary of Mizoramsaid that the Assam government has already initiated an economic blockade. There are two National Highways that lead to Mizoram through Assam And in a way, these two highways are the lifelines of Mizoram.
Because a lot of transport and food gets to Mizoram via those roads. Writing a letter to the Union Home Secretary, the Mizoram Chief Secretary said that the lives of the people of Mizoram are suffering terribly because of this blockade. He also mentioned a similar blockade by Assam last year that lasted 25 days. However, there is some good news according to the latest news, Assam is claiming that they have removed this economic blockade.
Ironically, friends, Assam has a BJP government. And in Mizoram, BJP allied NDA is in government. What’s more ironic is perhaps that the day on which these violent clashes took place two days before that day, the Union Home Minister had visited the North-East. He met all the Cheif Ministers there to ask them to resolve all the inter-state disputes among the North-Eastern states peacefully.
And only two days later, these violent clashes erupted. Actually, friends, this isn’t the first time that border clashes broke out between Assam and Mizoram. In October 2020 too, between the people of Assam’s Cachar district and Mizoram’s Kolasib district, clashes broke out. But like this Colonel says what’s special about these clashes is that they aren’t between civilians. Instead, it was a clash between the police of the state governments. To understand this border conflict in detail we need to go back 150 years into history.
History Of Mizoram:
Mizoram, a land of naturalistic splendor, of hills and dales and mountainous jungle terrain. Enjoying a strategic position in the North-Eastern sector of India, the Union Territory of Mizoram is now assured of Statehoodwith special safeguards. An unhappy period of internal strife is over. The climate of violence has ended, And calm now descends on Mizoram. For a new era of peace and progress. After signing a peace accord with the Union Government, in 1987, Mizoram got a formal Statehood. This statehood could happen after 20 years of insurgency. In the 1960s, the Mizo National Front started a revolt against the Government of India to create an independent Mizoram.
The root cause of this revolt was the famine of 1959. That was caused by an ecological phenomenon ‘Mautam.’ Like plagues of the past, this one is brought by a creature called the black rat. Over the course of three nights as the villager’s sleep, rats erupt out of the ground by the thousands and eat everything inside. Back then, Mizoram, like the other North-Eastern states, was a district of Assam. Known as the Lushai Hills. In 1958, the Mizos warned the Assam government and the Indian government against the famine.
And had demanded a relief. But the Assam government had rejected this request. Because of such a response, the Mizo National Front started to revolt. And some of you might be surprised to know that there are many border disputes in North-East India. The major factor behind all of these being that several North-Eastern states were, at some time, a part of Assam. In fact, according to the Home Ministry, Assam has the most inter-state border disputes in India. Nityanand Rai, the Minister of State for Home Affairs, told the Parliament that Assam has ongoing border disputes with Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Meghalaya, and Mizoram.
About a month ago, a Congress MLA had to escape a firing in the Assam-Nagaland border. In 2014, because of tensions in the Assam-Nagaland border,18 people had lost their lives. If we talk about the Assam-Mizoram boundary dispute, the root cause of it is two boundary demarcations. When the boundary was decided.Once in 1875 and then again in 1933. In 1832, after the assassination of Raja Govinda Chandrathe British took control of the Cachar valley of Assam. After this, the British started a trade for their own profit, Britishers expanded tea cultivation in Assam.
And because of the Britishers’ tea cultivation, the Mizos had to face two problems. The first problem was that the Mizos practiced shifting cultivation. In shifting cultivation, a large land area is required. That was becoming difficult because the British were expanding tea cultivation. The second problem was that for the Mizos, hunting was a big part of their culture. This was also becoming difficult because the Britishers were controlling more and more land for tea cultivation. Because of these two problems, several Mizo tribes had started raiding the Cachar valley of Assam. Because of these raids, the British were quite worried for their safety and their profits.
And for this reason, in 1871, they launched an expedition to teach a lesson to the Mizo tribal chiefs. And four years later, in 1875, to end all disputes, the Britishers, in consultation with the Mizos, framed an Inner Line Regulation. With Inner Line Regulation they defined an imaginary line to divide the plain areas of Assam and the hill areas of Mizoram. As per this, any British subject, that crosses this line would have to pay a fine and the British will not expand their tea plantation to the hill areas.
And most of you may not know, that practices like this are still in force today. To enter Mizoram, tourists need to get an Inner Line Permit. Coming back to our story, even after passing the Inner Line Regulations, the tensions between the Mizos and Britishers had not subsided. Because of this, in 1890, the British formally took the Lushai Hills under their control. After taking over the area’s control the raids by the Mizos had stopped.
Because had there been any further raids in the Cachar valley, the British would’ve punished the Mizo chiefs brutally. Let’s fast forward to 1933.To the second border demarcation. This border demarcation defined the boundary between Mizoram, Assam’s Cachar district, and Manipur. And this border demarcation is integral to understand the present-day conflict. Because while Assam recognizes the 1933 border, Mizoram recognizes the 1875 border. In 2018, the political parties of Mizoram and civil societies submitted a memo to Prime Minister Modi. Where they stated that the 1933 border was approved without the consent of the people of the Lushai Hills, aka Mizoram.
Whereas Assam’s Chief Minister Himanta Biswa questions why should Assam acknowledge the 1875 border?
In 1875 Mizoram was a part of Assam. And they aren’t asking for the entire Mizoram. This isn’t a new disagreement. It’s been there for years. When Mizoram received Statehood, both Mizoram and Assam had agreed that they would maintain the status quo and establish a No Man’s Land between their borders. The website of the Assam Government also states that they have no major border dispute with Mizoram.
And that they are maintaining the status quo. But it has been very challenging to maintain this status quo. In February 2018, a student union MZP built a wooden resthouse in the forest for the farmers. Assam police and forest department officials came and demolished that resthouse. Claiming that it was built on Assam’s territory. It wasn’t like they built it in another country. They built something on the territory of another Indian state. The members of MZP clashed with the Assam police regarding this. But as I said earlier, this isn’t the first inter-state dispute between two states. But the way both state governments are behaving.
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FIRs being lodged against both Chief Ministers, a travel advisory has been issued, an economic blockade is put up, on top of it, on social media, officials are fighting on Twitter openly and publicly. It makes it seem that the politicians on both sides are prioritizing their popularity among their domestic audience instead of solving this complex issue. If we’re to talk about a solution any boundary issue can be solved in two ways. As Lieutenant General Shokin Chauhan had explained recently, either the Union Government can persuade both State Governments that they come together to discuss the matter and come up with a solution together. Or the second option can be that boundary commission is set up and the boundary commission would lay down what needs to be done in the situation what the exact border would be, and both state governments would have to adhere to the boundary commission.
But the second solution is not easy to implement at all. Because the two commissions had been set up previously by the Central Government. To resolve the Assam-Nagaland border dispute. But both the commissions failed. Do you know why? Because simply put, the recommendations of the commissions weren’t accepted by either of the state government. So only one solution remains here.
Both state governments should sit together and discuss, under the guidance of the Union government, and solve this problem between them. But this wouldn’t happen till both State Governments are busy trying to score political points. About how they can exploit the situation to play their political games. On top of it, some people on social media, have started to give a religious angle to this issue. To what extent can people go to manipulate situations for their own benefit of inciting hatred between two communities?
But friends, in the midst of all this negativity, there is some hope. The Assam government issued a notice to its police stating that they should ensure the safety of the people of Mizoram. On the other hand, Mizoram’s Chief Minister has said that all North-Eastern people are one. But the effect of these statements at ground level will be decided with time.
How much can the situation be resolved really?
I hope that the situation is peacefully resolved. Thank you very much!