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Hailakandi (Assam): The Assam government on Wednesday sent an official team to a remote village in Hailakandi district along its border with Mizoram to verify claims that people from the neighbouring state were allegedly encroaching land in Assam and cutting down trees for jhum cultivation, a senior official said.
Hailakandi superintendent of police Gaurav Upadhyay told PTI that a joint team of civil administration, police and forest department was sent to verify claims of encroachment in Gutguti in Ramnathpur police station area.
“On Tuesday, we received reports from some locals of alleged encroachment in a very remote location. To verify their claims, a team has been sent to the site during the day,” he said.
Upadhyay said that the team was yet to return to the district headquarters and all details related to the alleged encroachment will be known only after getting their report.
“At the moment, we cannot say if this is an encroachment or they were clearing forests for jhum cultivation on the Mizoram side itself. We will take action as per the report of our team on their arrival from the location,” he added.
Local sources said that more than 100 trees have already been cut by people from Mizoram to create a road to reach a place for jhum cultivation in a forested area in Gallacherra on the Assam side during the last few days.
Tension brewed between Assam and Mizoram along the inter-state border in Hailakandi district on October 29 last year following a “low-intensity blast” near the Baicherra forward outpost of Assam Police and the arrest of a Mizoram Police personnel for his alleged involvement in the incident.
At least six Assam Police personnel and one civilian were killed and more than 50 people injured as the festering border dispute between the two northeastern states erupted into a bloody conflict on July 26 last year.
On August 17 again, unidentified people from Mizoram opened fire on workers engaged in the construction of a road in Hailakandi district, which was retaliated by Assam Police.
On August 20, a few workers from Mizoram were found trying to build a bridge at Kachurthal in Ramnathpur police station area. Around 40-50 security personnel from Mizoram reached the bridge site when Assam Police objected to the construction.
Two days later, in order to assert the position of Assam and to ask Mizoram forces to retreat from the Assam side of the bridge, a party of around 200 Assam Police personnel and commandos under Upadhyay’s leadership had reached Kachurthal and the issue was settled without any violent face-off.
On November 24, a team of senior officials comprising Hailakandi DC and SP visited a reserve forest near the remote Haticherra village along the Assam-Mizoram border to inspect a site where a road was allegedly being constructed on the Assam side by Mizoram.
The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) on August 22 last year had issued notices to the Centre, Assam and Mizoram over the deadly border clash between the two northeastern states in July, stating that “grave violation of human rights” had taken place.
Assam’s Barak Valley districts of Cachar, Karimganj and Hailakandi share a 164.6 km long border with Mizoram’s three districts of Aizawl, Kolasib and Mamit.
The long-standing dispute has its origin in a notification of 1875 issued during the British rule that differentiated Lushai Hills from the plains of Cachar, and another of 1933 that demarcates a boundary between Lushai Hills and Manipur.
Mizoram insists that the inter-state boundary should be demarcated on the basis of the 1875 notification, a corollary to the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation (BEFR) Act, 1873.
Mizoram leaders have, however, been arguing against the demarcation notification of 1933, claiming that the Mizo society was not consulted, while Assam wants that notification to be enforced.