Assam Mizoram Border Dispute:The recent border battle on the Assam Mizoram border due to territorial disputes has highlighted the long-standing interstate boundary problems in the northeast, especially between Assam and the states that are included in it. The current states of Assam and Mizoram are 165 kilometers long. Both of these states border Bangladesh.
How did the Assam-Mizoram boundary dispute begin?
- The current 165-kilometer-long boundary between Assam and Mizoram dates all the way back to the colonial era, when Mizoram was known as Lushai Hills, an Assam region.
- The controversy derives from an 1875 notification that defined the Lushai Hills as distinct from the Cachar plains, and another from 1933 that establishes a boundary between the Lushai Hills and Manipur.
- Mizoram believes the line should be drawn in accordance with the 1875 notification, which is based on the 1873 Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation (BEFR) Act.
- Mizo authorities have previously fought against the demarcation notification made in 1933, claiming that Mizo society was not consulted.
- The Assam administration adheres to the 1933 delineation, which was the source of contention.
- Mizoram and Assam agreed to maintain the status quo in the border area’s no man’s land.
- In February 2018, violence erupted when the students’ union MZP (Mizo Zirlai Pawl) constructed a wooden rest house for farmers on Assam-claimed land, which was promptly dismantled by Assam Police.
- In October 2020, skirmishes erupted twice in a week over the construction of cottages in Lailapur (Assam) on Mizoram-claimed territory.
Are there any further boundary conflicts in the northeast?
- Assam has experienced boundary disputes with all of its north-eastern neighbours, with the exception of Manipur and Tripura, which had previously existed as independent states.
- The fundamental reason for this is that the other States, which were all incorporated into Assam during British administration, have fought the boundaries ever since they broke from Assam and became full-fledged States throughout time (Nagaland Statehood in 1963; Meghalaya, Tripura & Manipur Statehood in 1971; Arunachal Pradesh & Mizoram Statehood in 1987)
- Constitutional Authority vs. Historical Authority: While Assam has accepted various recommendations of Supreme Court-appointed border committees, other States have adhered to “historical boundaries” dating back to before 1826, when the British acquired undivided Assam and incorporated the hills as provinces.
- The Nagaland administration has insisted that a 1960 16-point agreement that resulted in the founding of Nagaland includes the “restoration” of all Naga areas that were transferred out of the Naga Hills following the British annexation of Assam in 1826.
- Meghalaya has challenged the Assam Reorganisation Act of 1971, saying that two blocks in Assam’s Karbi Anglong district were constituted in 1835 as part of the old United Khasi and Jaintia Hills.
- Assam claims that its neighbours have encroached on over 75,000 hectares of land. According to Assam government revenue statistics, Nagaland has encroached on 19,819.62 hectares, Arunachal Pradesh has encroached on 5,756.02 hectares, and Meghalaya has encroached on 65.62 hectares since 2001.
In addition to developing a standard operating procedure for guarding the contentious boundary, state governments should bolster coordination between the Superintendents of Police in border districts to ensure prompt action against criminals and anti-social behaviour that exacerbate border tensions.
New state formation/Assam Mizoram Border Dispute/
- However, the boundary between Lushai Hills and the then-princely state of Manipur was delineated in 1933 — it said that the Manipur boundary began at the trijunction of Lushai Hills, Assam’s Cachar district, and Manipur state.
- The Mizos reject this demarcation, referring instead to the 1875 boundary drawn in agreement with their chiefs.
- In the decades following independence, Assam – Nagaland (1963), Arunachal Pradesh (UT 1972, formerly NEFA), Meghalaya (UT 1972), and Mizoram (UT 1972) were formed (UT 1972).
- According to Mizoram, Assam has been pushing its population 10-12 kilometres into their land.
- Mizoram’s official position is that the line should be drawn in accordance with an 1875 notification that separated the Lushai Hills (then an Assam district that became Mizoram) from the Cachar lowlands.
- The notification is based on the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation Act, 1873, which requires Indians living outside Bengal to have a valid travel document in order to visit Mizoram.
- Additionally, Assam is at odds with Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, and Nagaland.
The conflict between these two states began during the British era, when two notifications were passed:
- Notification of 1875 delineating the Lushai Hills from the Cachar plains.
- Notification from 1933 establishing a border between the Lushai Hills and Manipur.
- Mizoram was under the assumption that the boundary had to be delineated in accordance with the 1875 notification, which was a follow-up to the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation (BEFR) Act, 1873.
- Mizo chiefs were also opposed to the demarcation that was announced in 1933. They asserted that they had not been consulted. However, the Assam government adhered to this demarcation guideline.
- Cachar, Hailakandi, and Karimganj share a 164.6-kilometer border with Mizoram’s Kolasib, Mamit, and Aizwal districts.
- It’s also worth noting that both sides adhere to their natural borders rather than an arbitrary line put across them.
The source of contention between Assam Mizoram Border Dispute
Boundary conflicts: Boundary disputes between states are a key source of contention. Karnataka and Maharashtra, for example, both claim Belgaum. The formation of Manipur and Tripura, as per the North Eastern Areas Reorganization Act 1971, resulted in a significant change.
Migration: When residents of a state believe their land and resources are being exploited by migrants from other states, a slew of concerns arise. This occurs when a state lacks sufficient resources, forcing job seekers to relocate.
Water Resource Sharing: The most long-standing issue in India is the sharing of water resources. People migrate and create havoc as a result of increased demand for water.
Assam Mizoram Border Dispute ,Way Forward:
The various boundary issues can be resolved if the country’s actual borders are satellite mapped. The interstate council must be resurrected to improve dispute resolution options. Additionally, Zonal Councils can be resurrected to investigate and advise on such disputes. addition to developing a standard operating procedure for guarding the contentious boundary, state governments should bolster coordination between the Superintendents of Police in border districts to ensure prompt action against criminals and anti-social behaviour that exacerbate border tensions.
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