National Affairs: Assam-Mizoram Border Dispute - A Historical Conflict

By Gaurav Gupta|Updated : July 29th, 2021

At least five Assam Police personnel were killed and 50 others were injured as Assam and Mizoram policemen allegedly fired at each other on Monday in a sudden escalation of a border dispute between the two states.

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.

At least five Assam Police personnel were killed and 50 others were injured as Assam and Mizoram policemen allegedly fired at each other on Monday in a sudden escalation of a border dispute between the two states.

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.

At least five Assam police personnel were killed as the dispute over the state’s border with Mizoram flared up again over allegations of encroachment. The issue has deep roots and owes to the demarcation of borders going back to colonial times and the creation of the states in India’s northeast following Independence.

WHAT IS THE SOURCE OF THE INTERNAL BORDER DISPUTE?

  • 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 issue could not be settled once and for all when the state was created in independent India. The result is both states continue to have a differing perception of the border.
  • Mizoram was granted statehood in 1987 by the State of Mizoram Act, 1986.
  • Assam became a constituent state of India in 1950 and lost much of its territory to new states that emerged from within its borders between the early 1960s and the early 1970s.
  • The Assam-Mizoram dispute stems from a notification of 1875 that differentiated Lushai Hills from the plains of Cachar, and another of 1933 that demarcates a boundary between Lushai Hills and Manipur.
  • During colonial times, Mizoram was known as Lushai Hills, a district of Assam.
  • 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.
  • The Assam government follows the 1933 demarcation, and that is the point of conflict.
  • According to an agreement between the governments of Assam and Mizoram, the status quo should be maintained in no man’s land in the border area.
  • 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.

WHAT IS AT STAKE?

  •  It is, therefore, the 1875 border marking out the Cachar Hills from the Lushai Hills and the 1933 notification demarcating Lushai Hills and Manipur that are at the heart of the conflict between Mizoram and Assam.
  • The Mizo Assembly was told that “the difference of the previous boundary of 1875 and of 1933 is 749 sq.km”. Assam and Mizoram now share a border that extends for a little over 164km and there are three Assam districts — Cachar, Karimganj and Hailakandi — that touch the three districts of Aizawl, Kolasib and Mamit in Mizoram.

Other Boundary Disputes in Northeast:

  • During British rule, Assam included present-day Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh and Meghalaya besides Mizoram, which became separate states one by one.
  • Currently, Assam has boundary problems with each of them.
  • Assam CM:- Shri Himanta Biswa Sarma
  • Mizoram CM:- PU Zoramthanga

Assam-Nagaland:

  • Nagaland shares a 500-km boundary with Assam.
  • It achieved statehood in December 1963 and was formed out of the Naga Hills district of Assam and Arunachal Pradesh (then North-East Frontier Agency).
  • Violent clashes and armed conflicts, marked by killings, have occurred on the Assam-Nagaland border since 1965.
  • The boundary dispute is in the Supreme Court.
  • Nagaland CM:- Neiphiu Rio

Assam-Arunachal Pradesh:

  • Both states have a boundary of over 800 km.
  • Arunachal Pradesh was granted statehood by the State of Arunachal Pradesh Act, 1986 in 1987.
  • Clashes were first reported in 1992 and since then, there have been several accusations of illegal encroachment from both sides, and intermittent clashes.
  • This boundary issue is also being heard by the Supreme Court.
  • Arunachal Pradesh CM:- Pema Khandu

Assam-Meghalaya:

  • The 884-km boundary between the two states also witnesses flare-ups.
  • Meghalaya came into existence as an autonomous state within the state of Assam in April 1970 comprising the United Khasi and Jaintia Hills and the Garo Hills districts.
  • In 1972, it got statehood.
  • As per Meghalaya government statements, today there are 12 areas of dispute between the two states.
  • Meghalaya CM:- Conrad Sangma

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Gaurav GuptaGaurav GuptaMember since Jul 2020
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