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Homechevron_rightOpinionchevron_rightEditorialchevron_rightBorder row of divisive ...

Border row of divisive politics

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Border row of divisive politics
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Boasting that no outside force will be allowed to capture an inch of land, threatening with any attempt at that will be met with fitting response, mobilising people at the border and making plot for riots against the neighbour, lining up armed police on either side of the border, war cries from both government leaders on social media and in the public, and finally all this evolving into a bloody conflict causing the death of six Assam policemen and injury to about hundred people… this muscular clash coupled with aggressive posturing is not the picture of the Indo-Pak border in Jammu-Kashmir or of Arunachal Pradesh border between India and China. What has moved to such belligerence based on border demarcations and the underlying racism is the dispute between the two prominent north-eastern states of India, Assam and the small adjacent state of Mizoram. This Assam-Mizoram dispute that has aggravated over the last two years, has all the makings of a border clash between two unfriendly countries such as border violation, unauthorised construction, immigration, infiltration and deployment of forces. The Assam government has issued a cautionary advisory that people should not travel to Mizoram and those who do so will be doing it at their own risk. Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma declared that 4,000 commandos will be deployed to protect the border. On the other side, Mizoram's ruling party parliamentarian, K Vanlalvena threatens that if Assam police enter the state, they will have to see another violent response. Mizoram government booked Assam chief minister on murder charges. In retaliation, Assam government filed a case against the Mizo MP. That is how two north-eastern states are locking horns with tit for tat actions.

There is no political difference between the ruling parties of the two states. If Assam is ruled directly by the BJP, Mizoram is ruled by chief minister Zoramthanga who is a trusted ally of the sangh parivar. It was none else than Sarma, the BJP's deputy to saffronise north-western India, who formed the North-East Democratic Alliance and set the stage for Zoaramthanga's Mizo National Front in Mizoram. But none of these alliances and equations has persuaded either party to any leniency in their claim and tussle for soil and a few waterfalls. The local population is of the opinion that the battle lines are getting drawn between the two peoples in the name of borders that were not clearly demarcated in the division of states during the colonial rule.

It was the British who in 1875 split Assam and carved out a special region for Mizos. Later in 1933, British officials re-drew the border. But after independence, in 1972 borders were again redrawn according to the 1875 territorial division. The contention of Assam is that the 1933 border should be made the basis for a new map. It is while the embers of this final dispute have been still burning for over half a century that discord broke out again last year. Alleging that Mizoram people crossed borders and made settlements in cottages, Assam attempted an eviction operation last October. In protest against this, Mizoram blocked vehicles from Assam at the Mizo border. In the meantime, Mizo police captured a man from the border area, who later died while in custody. Subsequent intervention by the Centre got both sides to make compromise and the border was opened after three weeks. Now, Mizoram alleged that Assam police infiltrated into its territory last month and put up heavy police mechanism at the Mizoram border. It didn't take long for Assam to deploy reciprocal forces on the other side too. Strangely enough, these clashes are intensifying at a location where the central forces are keeping guard in the backdrop of previous tensions. At the end of all this, on 26th last, Mizo police fired shots alleging that Assam police's 200-strong troops had arrived there across the border. The firing killed seven of which six were policemen. Following this, both sides convened separate meetings led by respective chief ministers and were in a verbal battle against each another. Finally in response to the ultimatum by union home minister, both sides have temporarily relented and expressed willingness to reconcile and withdraw cases, but going by the chronology of the dispute that truce is destined to be short-lived.

The Assam-Mizoram border conflict is an illustration of the extent to which the divisions perpetrated by ruling forces for vested political interests by arbitrarily demarcating land borders, will lead the people. This is happening in Assam where the successors of ancestors who had been led to slave camps of colonial powers, are subjected to racial discrimination and hatred and thus alienated. It is there that battle-lines are being drawn between narrow racists in the name of borders. For a glimpse of how far the practitioners of divisive politics will take the country, when even in the misfortune of still having to pay the price of old sins, Jammu-Kashmir is bifurcated and seeds of division are sown in Tamil Nadu, one only has to look at the country's north-eastern states where new dispute zones are opened.

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TAGS:Mizoram-Assam border row six policemen killed war of words divisive politics 
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