Sarma regrets that LMGs fired relentlessly for 30 minutes that targeted own countrymen
Guwahati: A night after the bloody conflict broke out at the Assam-Mizoram border, killing six police personnel and injuring around 60 of them, Assam chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said on Tuesday that not an inch of Assam’s land will be conceded to Mizoram.
Mr Sarma, who laid wreaths to pay homage to the slain policemen who lost their lives in the border clash on Monday night, told reporters in Silchar: “People sacrificed their lives but protected the state boundary.”
Narrating how he tried to avoid the situation, Mr Sarma said: “I spoke to Mizoram chief minister Zoramthanga six times Monday. For development, these kinds of issues need to be resolved. Moments after the firing started, I called him to take control, but he said sorry.” Mr Sarma regretted it was one of the rarest incidents that LMGs was fired relentlessly for 30 minutes that targeted our own countrymen.
Ruling out the chance of any external reason behind such aggressive action by neighbouring states, Mr Sarma admitted Assam had refused to allow a few Myanmar refugees taking shelter in Mizoram after the recent unrest in Myanmar to go Halflong in Assam.
At least six persons were killed and 60 others, including an SP, were injured in a bloody clash between the police forces of the two states on the Assam-Mizoram border on Monday.
Saying his government had decided to raise and deploy three commando battalions in Cachar, Karimganj, Hailakandi districts bordering Mizoram, Mr Sarma said: “The dispute is not regarding land, it is regarding reserve forests. Assam wants to protect the reserve forests. It is not organising any settlement in the forest area, and we don’t want any settlements there.”
Mr Sarma said: “The Assam government has decided to move the Supreme Court over the issue of borders so that no one can encroach reserve forests. We don’t want land and we only want that reserve forests not be allowed for any state’s settlement. We are fine. We do not want any land there. Assam does not believe in revenge and economic blockade.”
He also clarified: “This is not a political issue. This is a boundary dispute between two states. This is a long-standing border dispute. There was a dispute even at the time when Congress governments were there on both sides. This is a dispute between two states, not between two political parties.”
The Assam CM, who visited the police personnel in the Silchar hospital, also said all police personnel guarding the border will be provided with one month’s extra salary by the Assam government. He also announced a one-time relief of Rs 50 lakhs and a government job to the families of those who lost their lives and Rs 10 lakhs to the injured in the Assam-Mizoram clash.
Pointing out that Union home minister Amit Shah was also constantly in touch with the chief ministers of two states, Mr Sarma said: “The approach of the Central government has consistently been that inter-state disputes can be resolved only with the cooperation of the states concerned and that the Centre acts only as a facilitator for an amicable settlement of the dispute in the spirit of mutual understanding.”
The situation on the Assam-Mizoram border remained tense as Assam has declared a three-day mourning from Tuesday to condole the death of five policemen and one civilian in the border clash on Monday night, while the locals in the state’s Cachar district threatened an economic blockade of the neighbouring state of Mizoram.
The deceased have been identified as sub-inspector Swapan Kr Roy and constables Liton Suklabaidya, M.H. Barbhuyia, N. Hussain and S. Barbhuiya. The Assam government said the conflict took place when a team of officials, including an IG, DIG, DC Cachar, SP Cachar and DFO Cachar, went to sort out issues over the alleged construction of a road by Mizoram towards Rengti Basti in Assam, destroying the Inner Line Reserve Forest in the Lailapur area.
Meanwhile, the Congress has formed a seven-member committee to visit Assam’s Cachar district to assess the situation after Monday’s violence. The committee will submit a detailed report to the party, the Congress’ Assam in-charge Jitendra Singh said.