In a new turn to the ongoing Assam-Mizoram border trouble, a 48-year-old man from Assam died in custody in Mizoram on November 2, leading to protests along the inter-state border intensifying.
Assam chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal, who on November 2 sent an urgent letter to Union home minister Amit Shah to apprise him of the situation, asked chief secretary Jishnu Barua and director general of police Bhaskarjyoti Mahanta to rush to southern Assam to deal with the situation.
He also announced Rs 5 lakh compensation to the family of Intyaz Ali, who died in custody in northern Mizoram’s Kolasib district.
Mizoram home secretary Lalbiaksangi, in a letter to her Assam counterpart, said that Ali, a resident of southern Assam’s Lailapur, was detained in the state’s Kolasib district on November 1 with drugs and he was referred to a health centre for a checkup but was found dead on November 2.
Police officials in Assam’s Cachar district said that after the news of Ali’s death came, hundreds of agitated people gathered along the border to protest.
Deputy inspector general of police, Southern Assam Range, Dilip Kumar Dey told the media that Ali’s brother informed the police on November 1 that Ali went to jungle to collect firewood and the Mizoram Police detained him.
Assam’s environment and forest minister Parimal Suklabaidya went to the border area and urged the agitated people to keep calm as the state government has taken several steps to deal with the situation and regularly apprised the central government over the prevailing situation.
Mizoram chief secretary Lalnunmawia Chuaungo, in a letter to his Assam counterpart, said that the blockade on the NH 306 continued despite assurance from Assam government during the virtual meeting held under the chairmanship of Union home secretary Ajay Kumar Bhalla last week.
Chuaungo requested Barua, who took over charge on October 31, to provide security escort to the oil tankers and vehicles carrying POL (petroleum, oil, lubricant) and cooking gas.
A senior official in Aizawl said that Bhalla, in his second meeting with the Assam and Mizoram chief secretaries, urged both to take steps to withdraw security personnel from the inter-state border.
Mizoram’s food, civil supplies and consumer affairs minister K Lalrinliana said that his state government has taken steps to ferry transport fuel and cooking gas from neighbouring Manipur and Tripura.
The inter-state border trouble resurfaced after a fortnight on October 28 along Assam’s Cachar and Karimganj, which share mountainous borders with Mizoram’s Mamit and Kolasib.
Due to the NH 306 blockade at Lailapur, over 200 Mizoram bound goods-laden vehicles are stuck as the agitators in southern Assam refused to call off their protest unless Mizoram withdraws its security personnel from Assam.
Festering since October 9, the situation along the 164.6-km Assam-Mizoram border took an ugly turn when around 20 shops and houses were burnt and over 50 people sustained injuries in the attacks and counter-attacks by people on either side on October 17.