National Concerns: Assam-Mizoram, and the other boundary issues in NE

Assam-Mizoram boundary dispute

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In News:

  • Over the last one week, residents in the areas bordering Assam and Mizoram have clashed over territory issues.
  • The clashes highlight the inter-state boundary issues, which have been going on since a long time in the Northeast.

Assam-Mizoram Boundary dispute

  • Mizoram was part of Assam till 1972, when it became a separate Union Territory. Later, in 1987, Mizoram became a full-fledged state.
  • The three South Assam districts of Cachar, Hailakandi and Karimganj share a 165 kilometre-long border with Mizoram’s Kolasib, Mamit and Aizawl districts.
Assam-Mizoram boundary dispute
  • The 165 km long boundary between present-day Assam and Mizoram, goes back to the colonial era, when Mizoram was known as Lushai Hills, a district of Assam.
  • The dispute is rooted in a notification of 1875 that differentiated Lushai Hills from the plains of Cachar, and another notification of 1933 that demarcates (sets) a boundary between Lushai Hills and Manipur.
  • The Assam government follows the 1933 demarcation.
  • However, Mizoram believes the boundary should be demarcated on the basis of the 1875 notification, which is derived from the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation (BEFR) Act, 1873.
  • Mizoram is against the 1933 demarcation, as it claims that the Mizo society was not consulted during the process of demarcation in 1933.
  • Several talks have been held since 1995 to resolve the border dispute, however no progress has taken place on this front.

Recent clashes in the order districts:

  • A clash had taken place on October 9, on the border of Karimganj (Assam) and Mamit (Mizoram) districts, after plantations belonging to Mizoram residents were set on fire.
  • While Assamese officials claim the land falls under Karimganj’s (Assam’s) jurisdiction, the Mizoram officials claimed that the land is being cultivated for a long time by residents of Mizoram.
  • Another clash began on October 17, after residents of Lailapur village in Assam’s Cachar district clashed with residents of localities near Vairengte in Mizoram’s Kolasib district.
  • This clash took place over a COVID-19 testing centre set up by Mizoram within the territory claimed by Assam. The testing centre was set up to test people and drivers of trucks going to Assam.

Other boundary issues in the Northeast:

  • During British rule, the province of Assam included present-day Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya and Mizoram, which became separate states one by one. Today, Assam has boundary problems with each of them.
  • Assam-Nagaland:
    • Nagaland shares a 500-km boundary with Assam. According to a 2008 IDSA research paper, violent clashes have occurred on the Assam-Nagaland border since 1965.
    • In two major incidents of violence in 1979 and 1985, at least 100 persons were killed.
    • The boundary dispute is now in the Supreme Court.
  • Assam-Arunachal
    • On the Assam-Arunachal Pradesh boundary (over 800 km), clashes were first reported in 1992, according to the same research paper.
    • Since then, there have been several accusations of illegal encroachment from both sides, which have led to clashes.
    • This boundary issue too is being heard by the Supreme Court.
  • Assam-Meghalaya:
    • The 884-km Assam-Meghalaya boundary, too, witnesses clashes frequently.
    • As per Meghalaya government, today there are 12 areas of dispute between the two states.

Also Read: National Concerns: Kalapani (The Disputed Area)

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