Express News Service
GUWAHATI: As the tension on the Assam-Mizoram interstate border continues, the Chief Ministers of the two states stuck to their guns on Tuesday, refusing to back down from their respective stands.
While narrating the events leading up to Monday’s violence that left five Assam police personnel dead and over 70 others injured, Assam CM Himanta Biswa Sarma and his Mizoram counterpart Zoramthanga played to their local galleries and hurled accusations at each other.
Sarma said the Assam government recently received inputs about Mizo activities inside an Assam reserve forest. He said satellite images showed Mizoram was building a road and erecting structures. He said during a subsequent inspection, a Mizoram Police post was also spotted.
“The Assam Police urged them to vacate it (post). They vacated it but returned soon with civilians. The civilians attacked the Assam Police personnel with stones etc. Later, when a meeting was going on between Assam Police personnel and Mizoram’s Kolasib Superintendent of Police to restore normalcy, the Mizoram Police fired from a hilltop with light machine guns,” Sarma alleged.
He said 42 policemen and civilians from Assam, including Cachar SP Nimbalkar Vaibhav Chandrakant, were injured and five cops succumbed to their wounds. Chandrakant was flown to Mumbai by an Indian Air Force aircraft on Tuesday for treatment. A bullet got embedded in his leg.
Sarma said the Assam government had evidence to suggest the Mizo civilians were carrying weapons.
“The Mizoram government must probe how and from where the civilians got arms. If there are civilians with arms, then that society will be destabilized,” the Assam CM said.
He said since the incident took place inside Assam, the Assam Police would register a case and investigate how the Mizo civilians managed to get hold of weapons.
Zoramthanga blamed the Assam government for the incident. He said it was decided during Union Home Minister Amit Shah’s July 24 meeting with the CMs of northeastern states in Shillong that the border issues of Assam, Mizoram, Nagaland, Meghalaya and Arunachal Pradesh would be resolved under the guidance of the Home Ministry.
“But on Monday, 200 Assam Police personnel crossed the border and overran a CRPF camp and a Mizoram Police duty post. Even as the SP of Kolasib and others were having discussions with the Assam Police officers, the Assam Police personnel started firing tear gas shells at a group of Mizoram locals that congregated,” Zoramthanga alleged.
He said when further discussions were going on to diffuse tension, the situation turned volatile and the Assam Police started firing.
“First, they lobbed grenades, followed by firing. There was an exchange of fire for about 45 minutes. It is sad that so many lives were lost and so many others were injured,” the Mizoram CM said.
“Barely two days after our meeting with the Union Home Minister, why was Assam in a hurry to send 200 policemen to the border and cross it? It is unbecoming of a normal government. There could be accusations about our policemen using machine guns but they use other weapons, including AK 47, too,” Zoramthanga said.