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Assam-Nagaland border

At a time when Assam and Mizoram are engaged in a serious violent conflict over the inter-state boundary leading to the death of police personnel on the Assam side

Assam-Nagaland border

Sentinel Digital DeskBy : Sentinel Digital Desk

  |  2 Aug 2021 4:04 AM GMT

At a time when Assam and Mizoram are engaged in a serious violent conflict over the inter-state boundary leading to the death of police personnel on the Assam side, it is very heartening to find that Assam and Nagaland have formally agreed to pull back their respective armed forces to their base camps. This decision was taken at a crucial meeting between the Chief Secretaries of the two states to deescalate the tension prevailing in two stretches on the inter-state border between Assam and Nagaland. While the meeting held on Saturday discussed the disputes over the demarcation of boundary in the Dessoi Valley and Tsurangkong Valley where police personnel of the two states are in a standoff, it is good to see that the two states have decided that the armed forces of both the states would simultaneously move from their present locations to their respective base camps within 24 hours. It may be recalled that tension between Assam and Nagaland over the inter-state boundary has been as old an issue as has been the age of Nagaland as a state. While tension along the border between the two states has on several occasions led to violence, there was at least one occasion when the police forces of the two states were engaged in a kind of war between themselves, leading to the death of more than 25 police personnel belonging to Assam. A series of talks between the two states, some directly and some at the intervention of the Union Home Ministry, which was followed by a case in the Supreme Court has led to no solution so far. Assam, which was the mother state for Nagaland, Mizoram and Meghalaya, as also partially for Arunachal Pradesh, has been facing inter-state boundary disputes since the time these states were carved out of Assam. Moreover, while the Centre has to take the blame for not demarcating the inter-state boundaries at the time of creation or carving out these states, in most cases it is seen that the past governments and past politicians in all the states had only preferred to keep the controversies alive instead of striving to resolve them amicably. What exactly is why Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma has described Saturday's agreement between Nagaland and Assam as a historic step in the inter-state relations. Expressing his gratitude to Nagaland Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio for working with Assam for restoring peace on the border, Sarma has also conveyed to his Kohima counterpart the message that Assam was committed to ensuring peace along its borders and strives for social and economic prosperity for the Northeastern region. About the Assam-Mizoram border tension in which even a senior IPS officer of Assam was hit by bullets fired from the other side last week, it is for the Centre to take a strong stand and resolve the matter instead of letting it linger. It is not very fortunate a fact that Chief Ministers of both states have resorted to issuing such strong-worded statements, allegations and counter-allegations because such acts only add fuel to fire. Moreover, what has been also seen is that a large number of citizens on both sides have been making all kinds of irresponsible remarks on the Assam-Mizoram border feud without trying to understand the ground realities. Many of these social media users have also used abusive, offensive and derogatory language which does not reflect well the societies on both sides. What is required in the Northeastern region is more civil society interaction among the seven states. There should be more socio-cultural exchanges between different states of the region as also an increasing number of sports and youth programmes. As the Assam Chief Minister has said, amicable settlements of inter-state border disputes are of paramount importance to ensure peaceful coexistence of the neighbouring villages of the states of the North-eastern region. Increasing people-to-people contact and interaction, more exchange of students among the states, launching of language training courses on a regional basis, sharing of common problems and common cultural heritage are some other activities which can rebuild positive relationship among people of the two states.

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