Wednesday, June 29News That Matters

Assam-Mizoram feud

VIOLENCE triggered by a festering border dispute between Assam and Mizoram claimed the lives of five policemen and a civilian on Monday. The Assam-Mizoram border has witnessed several skirmishes since October last year, with both states accusing each other of encroachment on their territories. It’s all the more regrettable that the latest clash took place just two days after Union Home Minister Amit Shah met the chief ministers of the eight northeastern states in Shillong to discuss inter-state border disputes and other issues.

It seems that both Assam and Mizoram mishandled the situation, with the Twitter face-off between the two chief ministers only escalating hostilities. Going by the turn of events, it’s unlikely that the two states would be able to resolve the long-pending issue on their own. Rather than confining itself to a facilitator’s role, the Centre would have to actively intervene to ensure peace along the border in question. At the heart of the dispute are two British-era notifications, issued in 1875 and 1933, that demarcated the inter-state boundary in different ways. Monday’s incident should serve as a wake-up call for all stakeholders to go back to the drawing board and come up with a mutually acceptable solution.

The Northeast has for decades been a hotbed of insurgency. Conflicts between the states over encroachments and other unlawful activities are a dangerous contribution to that volatile area and the law and order situation there. Unrest in Assam and its neighbouring states can have grave implications for national security. The role of Central paramilitary forces in curbing violence along the inter-state borders cannot be overestimated. The deployment of these forces should be increased in accordance with the growing threat perception. The NDA government prides itself on putting the Northeast on the path of progress and development and giving Union Cabinet berths to leaders from the region. The Centre’s litmus test will be to help various states iron out their differences and work in close cooperation. The ‘Bharat Jodo Andolan’ envisaged by Prime Minister Narendra Modi for achieving national unity in diversity would remain a distant dream as long as the states are locked in bitter, violent feuds.

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