* Over 50 hurt * Many shops, houses burnt * Situation now under control
SILCHAR: The situation on the Assam-Mizoram boundary took an ugly turn in the past 48 hours with many shops and houses burnt and over 50 people injured, officials said on Sunday.
During the last few days, aggressive Mizo miscreants backed by the armed police of the neighbouring State have been acting like marauders to forcibly occupy land of Assam in the border areas of Karimganj, Hailakandi and Cachar districts.
Evoking derisive reactions to the local media, Assam Forest Minister Parimal Suklabaidya, during his on-the-spot inspection to see the Mizo aggression in the Rongpur area, made a statement that "it's a matter of annual festival". That was after the armed Mizo goons penetrated deep inside the Chiragi-Shingla Reserve Forest and Rongpur in Karimganj district and raised illegal structures.
How fortified they had made their positions could well be understood from the fact that a fact-finding delegation of BJP leaders were detained on the way by IRBn of Mizoram and forced them to return. The BJP delegation comprised Karimganj district president Subrata Bhattacharjee, Ratabari MLA Bijoy Malakar, and Zila Parishad president Ashis Nath.
Another area of conflict due to the Mizo aggression is Gutguti on the frontier with Mizoram in Hailakandi district. Many Mizos raised illegal structures well inside Assam land and even set up a Police check post, besides threatening the local residents. Much later, security forces from the district headquarters reached the spot to dismantle the illegal structures and the Police outpost.
But, the worst shape of Mizo aggression was seen all through Saturday and the following morning when Khulicherra-Lyalapur — 5 km area in Cachar district on the border with Mizoram and 55 km from here — was virtually turned into a battle ground, a sort of bloody confrontation between the aggressors and the local residents.
Backed by their police and Mizo Zirlawi Pawl — an influential student organisation — the encroachers in order to cow down the protesters used sharp weapons and even petrol bombs and set ablaze a number of shops and houses. The local residents did retaliate which resulted in injuries to uncounted persons on both sides.
The orgy of violence continued for a long time. However, a strong police force from Silchar joined by the personnel of police from Dholai and Lylapur drove out the Mizo miscreants to their side. Cachar Superintendent of Police, B L Meena and DSP Gourav Bhargava, were in the conflict zone to defuse the situation.
Cachar SP Meena said, "We got reports of a few temporary houses and stalls being burnt last night. Local police reached the spot and brought the situation under control. We are taking all possible steps to ensure such incidents do not recur in near future. We have also established contacts with our counterparts in Mizoram."
Owing to the unpredictable and sudden Mizo aggressions, the people living on the areas close to Mizoram always spend their days in tension. Sushmita Dev, former MP and president of the All India Mahila Congress, during her visit to the disturbed area, posed questions on the commitment of Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal to protect 'jaat, maati, bheti'.
How much land of Assam has been encroached upon and occupied by the Mizos is not known officially; but such acts continue in the interior areas of the valley. In the meantime, hundreds of goods-laden trucks are stranded on NH-54 leading to Mizoram.
Janasanyog adds: Though there is simmering tension along Assam-Mizoram inter-State border at Lylapur following a flare up last night, the situation is under control.
Minister for Environment and Forest, Parimal Suklabaidya rushed to the site of the incident at the instruction of the Chief Minister, on Sunday. Interacting with the local people to defuse the tension, he said that the incident that took place on Saturday night was the handiwork of miscreants out to create disturbance in society.
Assuring the local people living close to the border of safety and security, Suklabaidya said he would place their demands of police outpost and other security related issues to higher authorities.
The Minister said the civil and police administrations of Cachar are doing their level best to deal with the situation and would take care of the security aspect so that the local people can live without fear.
He appealed to the people to remain calm and to help in maintaining peace and tranquillity along the boundary as "the government is with you all and will take necessary steps".
Cachar Deputy Commissioner Keerthi Jalli too visited the troubled spot along the inter-State border to defuse tension and to instill a sense of security among the local people. Jalli assured the local residents that the administration would provide them security to ward off the evil machinations at work to create disturbance between the peoples of both the states.
Commissioner and Secretary, Home and Political, Gyanendra Dev Tripathi has also assured the local people of protection; and urged them to live in harmony with the people of neighbouring State.
DIG Southern Range, Dilip Kumar Dey, Additional Deputy Commissioner, Rajib Roy and Circle Officer, Sonai, Sudeep Nath were also present. Security has been beefed up at Lylapur and along the inter-State border.
IANS ADDS: Deputy Inspector General of Police, Southern Assam, Dilip Kumar Dey also said that the Cachar district police have approached their Mizoram counterparts in a bid to dispel the problem and prevent clashes between people from both sides.
Explaining the cause, Dey said over the phone that a COVID-19 testing centre was set up at Mizoram government at Lylapur, 1.5 km into Assam territory, on Friday, to test samples of Mizoram-bound truckers and other people.
"The testing centre was set up unilaterally and under the pressure of Mizoram's NGOs," he said, adding that the Cachar police had strongly objected to setting-up of the centre without permission from the Assam government.
Following this, some youths from Mizoram came to Lailapur on Saturday and attacked the truck drivers, villagers and burnt more than 15 small shops-cum-houses, said the DIG.
On the other hand, villagers of Mizoram's Mamit district, which is contiguous to Cachar (in Assam), told the media that miscreants from Cachar came to their villages and attacked shops and houses, causing huge damage.
A police official in Cachar also said that more than 50 people, mostly truck drivers, were injured when assailants from Mizoram threw stones and bricks on them.
More than 200 Mizoram-bound goods vehicles, mostly trucks, are now stranded in Cachar district and their drivers and owners refused to enter Mizoram without proper security, the DIG said.
However, volunteers of the Young Mizo Association (YMA), a powerful NGO of the mountainous State, have been providing food to stranded drivers and their helpers in Mizoram.
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