The Assam-Mizoram border dispute
- At least five Assam Police personnel were killed after the old boundary dispute between Assam and Mizoram exploded in violent clashes a contested border point on Monday.
- The violence spotlights the long-standing inter-state boundary issues in the Northeast, particularly between Assam and the states that were carved out of it.
- In October last year, residents of Assam and Mizoram had clashed twice in the space of a week over territory, in which at least eight people were injured and a few huts and small shops were torched.
The genesis of the boundary dispute:
- The boundary dispute between present-day Assam and Mizoram, 165 km long today, dates back to the colonial era, when Mizoram was known as Lushai Hills, a district of Assam.
- The dispute stems from a notification of 1875 that differentiated the Lushai Hills from the plains of Cachar, and another of 1933, which demarcates a boundary between the 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 have argued in the past against the demarcation notified in 1933 because Mizo society was not consulted.
- On other hand, the Assam government follows the 1933 demarcation.
What led to the violence and clashes?
- According to Mizoram authority, an agreement between governments of Assam and Mizoram some years ago, status quo should be maintained in no man’s land in the border area. However, people from Lailapur (Assam) broke the status quo and allegedly constructed some temporary huts. People from Mizoram side went and set fire on them.”
- On the other hand, Assam authority maintained that the contested land belongs to Assam as per the state’s records.
- 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