Mizoram has accused Assam police of “stealing” construction materials in Kolasib district, which shares the border with neighboring Hailakandi state. A case has been filed in the matter, officials said. The government of Himanta Biswa Sarma, meanwhile, has claimed that the construction activity was carried out in a place under its jurisdiction.
The incident happened on Friday after Assam police personnel entered the Zophai area of Mizoram in the Bairabi district of Kolasib, where a bridge is under construction, District Deputy Commissioner H Lalthlangliana Rohan Jha, his counterpart in Hailakandi, has informed.
“Assam police caused trouble for workers at the site and even stole some building materials, including pieces of iron bars…A police case has been filed against them for theft of building materials at Bairabi Police Station,” said Mr Lalthlangliana. in a letter written to Mr Jha yesterday. He also relayed the information via phone call, officials said.
The Assam government claimed today that Mizoram officials had entered its territory in Hailakandi and started building a bridge, PTI reported.
“The Commander (OC) of Ramnathpur Police Station and his patrol team immediately reached the spot and stopped the construction works, calling it an offense against Mizoram for not being authorized to build a bridge on the Assam side,” Chief Inspector from Hailakandi of police Gaurav Upadhyay told the news agency.
“To confirm Assam’s position and ask the Mizoram forces to withdraw from the Assam side of the bridge, a group of about 200 Assam police personnel and commandos under my leadership and other senior officials reached Kachurthal on Sunday morning. “
He dismissed the charge of theft, saying the neighboring state was trying to divert attention from the “main issue, which is illegal construction by the Mizoram authorities on Assam land”.
“The allegation of theft by a disciplined force like the Assam police is absolutely fabricated, baseless, rogue and without any facts,” said Mr Upadhyay.
Three districts of Mizoram — Kolasib, Aizawl and Mamit — share a 165-mile border with three of Assam’s in the Barak Valley — Hailakandi, Cachar and Karimganj. The border is disputed in at least five places.
After central paramilitary forces were deployed to the disputed area between Cachar and Kolasib in July following a July police clash that killed six Assam personnel and injured about 60, the dispute has recently shifted to Hailakandi-Kolasib.
Some people had bombed an empty school nearby; the Assam police were also engaged in alleged gun battles with those claiming to be Mizo civilians.
However, Mr Lalthlangliana said Friday’s incident cannot be considered a border issue as it was a site under construction to connect roads.
“But government officials who commit an act that could be interpreted as theft of government property is very disappointing and considered very serious,” said Mr Lalthlangliana.