Assam-Mizoram Border Dispute
Recently, several IED (Improvised Explosive Device) blasts were carried out inside Cachar district of Assam allegedly by miscreants from Mizoram. These blasts signal the re-emergence of long-unresolved Assam-Mizoram Border Dispute.
The boundary issue between Assam and Mizoram has existed since the formation of Mizoram — first as a union territory in 1972, and then as a full-fledged state in 1987.
Assam-Mizoram Border Issue:
- The boundary issue between present-day Assam and Mizoram dates back to the colonial era when inner lines were demarcated according to the administrative needs of British Raj.
- The Assam-Mizoram dispute stems from two notifications passed under British era.
- First, notification of 1875,that differentiated Lushai Hills from the plains of Cachar.
- Second, notification of 1933 that demarcates a boundary between Lushai Hills and Manipur.
- 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.
- Mizo leaders are against the demarcation notified in 1933, according to them, the Mizo society was not consulted.
- On the other hand, the Assam government follows the 1933 demarcation.
- As a result both states continue to have a differing perception of the border and that is the point of conflict.
- There is a 164.6-km inter-state border that separates Assam and Mizoram, with the three Assam districts of Cachar, Hailakandi and Karimganj sharing a border with Kolasib, Mamit and Aizawl districts of Mizoram.
- Further, the boundary between Mizoram and Assam follows naturally occurring barriers of hills, valleys, rivers and forests, and both sides have attributed border skirmishes to perceptional differences over an imaginary line.
- In the Northeast’s complex boundary equations, clashes between Assam and Mizoram residents are less frequent than they are between other neighbouring states of Assam, like with Nagaland.
Overall Condition of Inter-State Disputes in India:
- Issue of Boundary: Boundary disputes between the states are one of major reasons for Inter-state disputes in India. For example,
- Karnataka and Maharashtra both lay claim to belgaum and every now and then the matter comes up.
- The North-Eastern Areas (Restoration) Act, 1971 changed the political map of northeast India, by establishment of the states like Manipur and Tripura and the formation of Meghalaya.
- However, this reorganization has resulted in many boundary disputes in the northeastern region, like Assam-Nagaland, Assam-Meghalaya, etc.
- Issue of Migration: There have been violent agitations in some states over migrants and job seekers from other states.
- This is because the existing resources and the employment opportunities are not enough to meet the needs of the growing population.
- The ‘sons of the soil’ concept for preference in employment in the states concerned tends to destroy the roots of a healthy federalism.
- Disputes over Sharing Water Resources: The most long standing and contentious inter-state issue has been the sharing of river water
- Most of the Indian rivers are inter-state, i.e., they flow through more than one state.
- Due to an increase in demand for water, a number of inter state disputes over sharing river waters have surfaced.
- Boundary disputes between the states can be settled by using satellite mapping of the actual border locations.
- Reviving the Inter-state council can be an option for resolution of an Inter-state dispute.
- Under Article 263 of the Constitution, the Inter-state council is expected to inquire and advise on disputes, discuss subjects common to all states and make recommendations for better policy coordination.
- Similarly, Zonal Councils need to be revived to discuss the matters of common concern to states in each zone—matters relating to social and economic planning, border disputes, inter-state transport, etc.
- India is the epitome of unity in diversity. However, in order to strengthen this unity furthermore, both the centre and state governments, need to imbibe the ethos of cooperative federalism.