Guwahati, July 27: The Assam government has decided to move the Supreme Court seeking its intervention to ensure that not an inch of reserve forest land along its border with Mizoram is encroached upon and that status quo is maintained for peace on the inter-state boundary.
The decision has been taken in the wake of a major escalation of violence when “armed men” from Mizoram fired for about half an hour at Assam Police personnel and civilians at Lailapur in Cachar district near the inter-state boundary yesterday.
The boundary disputes between the two states have cropped up mainly because of encroachment of Reserve Forest along the inter-state boundary.
Addressing media in Silchar, about 46 km from the incident site today the chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said, “The Assam Police would soon investigate how civilians from Mizoram got light machine guns and automatic weapons (a video of which was posted by the chief minister) as the firing took place within Assam’s constitutional boundary.
He assured “not to give an inch of land within the constitutional boundary of the state to encroachers” even as he committed to maintain status quo for peace along the inter-state boundary.
He further said that he had asked Mizoram chief minister Zoramthanga to also examine the encroached forest area through satellite and see “how trees have been cut in the hills and land cleared for jhum cultivation by residents of Mizoram.”
In regard to the conflict zone, Sarma said that despite five of our brave policemen being martyred and over 40 policemen injured, Assam has not backtracked from the site.
“We have reinforced force deployment in the conflict area as our objective is to defend our constitutional boundary as long as it is our boundary. Till then, not an inch of land will be allowed to be encroached upon, more so because the disputed land is part of a reserved forest. As it is, since I took over as chief minister on May 10, 2021, there has been no fresh encroachment,” Sarma asserted.
“But yes, we have taken over and later handed over the police post (which Mizoram had claimed to be theirs) in the area to the central forces in accordance with the Centre’s instructions as it is the central government which decides on the demarcation of boundaries between two states,” the chief minister said.
In regard to border security, he said that three commando battalions (with a manpower strength of 1200 each) would be deployed along the Mizoram border at Cachar, Hailakandi and Karimganj districts, for which the process has begun.
“Assam will not launch counter attack nor will we launch an economic blockade…that is not in our DNA…we will not attack someone who belongs to the same country…but we will protect our land…our forests, even if we have to die,” he said.
“Besides, as a responsible, law-abiding state, Assam cannot allow its forces to fire at civilians, which is why we exercised restraint when the barrages of bullets were showered upon our police personnel and civilians. But yes, a case will be filed against the incident at it occurred inside Assam’s constitutional boundary,” the chief minister said.
He further said that he has directed the police forces to also safeguard the people from Mizoram who are residing in Assam for study/work purposes.
Meanwhile, a murder case has been registered in regard to the incident at Dholai police station, special DGP G.P Singh informed the media on Tuesday.