Mizoram has taken over around 1000 hectares of forest land inside Assam as tension continues to simmer at the interstate border that saw a bloodbath recently in which six Assam Police personnel were gunned down by their counterparts from across the border.
According to divisional forest officer, Cachar, Tejas Mariswamy , Mizos have set up several camps in the land they have encroached.
“We are now trying to protect the land that is in our possession. The decision to free the encroached land has to come from higher-ups,” he said.
The DFO’s revelation is contrary to chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma’s claim that not an inch of land belonging to Assam has been taken by the Mizos. He had made the claim post the July 26 incident at Lailapur in Cachar district in which the Assam policemen were killed.
Mariswamy’s disclosure comes in the wake of Mizos allegedly stopping work on a road inside Assam claiming the land belonged to them. The approximately four-kilometre-long PMGSY road is being constructed between Khulicherra and Baghewala.
According to reports, armed Mizo civilians backed by police allegedly obstructed Assam officials on duty and even assaulted them on Thursday. On Friday, they even forced Assam policemen to retreat from the area claiming the area belonged to Mizoram whereas the road is being constructed five kilometres from the border on Assam territory.
The Cachar district superintendent of police, Ramandeep Kaur, had visited the site on Thursday where she found some Mizos camping. She said the matter has been reported to the higher authorities and instructions were awaited. The work is suspended, but will restart after receiving instructions, she said.
Mariswamy had also accompanied the SP during the visit to the site on Thursday.
Assam and Mizoram share about 265-kilometre-long border which has been under dispute for long. There have been sporadic incidents since last year culminating in the July 26 conflagration. Efforts are now under way to find an amicable settlement to the dispute.
While Mizoram cites a 1875 notification to claim its territory, Assam is firm on the existing boundary. Mizoram, then Lushai Hills district, was carved out of Assam to first become a union territory in 1972 and then a full-fledged state in 1986.