The dispute over the 165-km Assam-mizoram border has its origin in British era demarcations and has since led to persistent conflict. Here is all you need to know about it.In 1875, the first exercise to demarcate present-day MIZORAM, then Lushing Hills, from the plains of Cachar in Assam was undertaken to introduce the inner line permit (ILP) regime. The British government demarcated the Lushai Hills under the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation of 1873. The regulation introduced the ILP regime in the northeast. ILP is a document issued for allowing the travel of an Indian citizen into a protected area for some time.In 1933, the British conducted demarcations in the northeast for separate districts based on culture, linguistic and tribal lines. This led to a new boundary separating Lushai Hills, Cachar, and the former princely state of Manipur. As part of this trifurcation, some parts of Lushai Hills went to Manipur.

Mizoram backs 1875 demarcation, saying it took place in consultation with then Mizo tribal chefs. Mizoram has rejected the 1933 demarcation saying Mizo tribal chiefs were not consulted then.Assam backs the carving of districts in north-eastern states as per the 1933 demarcation.In 1972, Mizoram was carved as a Union territory on basis of 1933 demarcation

When Mizoram was granted statehood in 1987, Mizo tribal leaders raised the border dispute claiming that Assam had taken away their land.In 1995, the first major skirmishes were reported in Lushai Hills along the border when the Mizoram government tried to settle people there as per the 1875 demarcation. Nearly 50 persons, including journalists, were injured in action by Assam police in 2018 after some Mizo civil society groups tried to set up a hut on the disputed boundary.

In 2019, the two states agreed to maintain a status quo and have no man’s land in the disputed area.Skirmishes in October 2020 left several injured on both sides and resulted in a blockade of National Highway 306, the lifeline to Mizoram, for 12 days.Days before this clash, on October 9, similar violence took place on the border of Karimganj (Assam) and Mamit (Mizoram) districts.

What happened in October 2020?

Residents of Lailapur village in Assam’s Cachar district clashed with residents of localities near Vairengte in Mizoram’s Kolasib district. Days before this clash, on October 9, similar violence had taken place on the border of Karimganj (Assam) and Mamit (Mizoram) districts.

On October 9, a farm hut and a betel nut plantation belonging to two Mizoram residents were set on fire.

In the second incident in Cachar, some people from Lailapur had pelted Mizoram police personnel and Mizoram residents with stones. “In turn, Mizoram residents mobilised and went after them,” Kolasib Deputy Commissioner Lalthangliana had said.

Lalthangliana said: “According to an agreement between governments of Assam and Mizoram some years ago, status quo should be maintained in no man’s land in the border area. However, people from Lailapur broke the status quo and allegedly constructed some temporary huts. People from Mizoram side went and set fire on them.”On the other hand, Keerthi Jalli, then Deputy Commissioner of Cachar, had told The Indian Express that the contested land belongs to Assam as per the state’s records.

In the October 9 incident, according to Mizoram officials, the land claimed by Assam has been cultivated for a long time by residents of Mizoram.

Mizo leaders have argued in the past against the demarcation notified in 1933 because Mizo society was not consulted. MZP’s Vanlaltana said the Assam government follows the 1933 demarcation, and that was the point of conflict.

Before the incidents of Monday (July 26) and last October, the last time the boundary saw violence was in February 2018.

On that occasion, the MZP had built a wooden rest house in a forest, ostensibly for use by farmers. The Assam Police and forest department officials had demolished it, saying this was in Assam territory. MZP members had then clashed with Assam personnel, who also thrashed a group of Mizoram journalists who had gone to cover the incident.

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