NEW DELHI: The unrest at the Assam-Mizoram border has had the two chief ministers and also the Union home minister getting involved.
Monday's flare up was the most violent yet, in which 6 Assam Police personnel lost their lives.
The current tension began in June-end when Assam Police allegedly took control over an area known as 'Aitlanghnar,' accusing Mizoram of encroaching on its territory. Since then there have been repeated clashes between forces and people of the two states around the disputed area.
Union home minister Amit Shah has asked both chief minister to ensure peace at the border.
Tracing the roots of the dispute takes us back to the 1830s, and days of colonial history.
Three districts of Assam — Cachar, Hailakandi and Karimganj — together share a 164.6 km border with Kolasib, Mamit and Aizawl districts in Mizoram. Both sides have a different perception of where the line lies. The border here is an imaginary line through rivers, hills, valleys and forests.
Over the years, what started off as a geographic problem has now also become an ethnic issue.
Here are the key points of the Assam-Mizoram border dispute:
A colonial legacy & post-Independence developments:
* The British annexed the Cachar kingdom in 1832, and introduced the Inner Line Regulation (ILR) in 1875 to separate Assamese territory from Mizo hills.
* A boundary was formalised in 1933- but the process did not involve the Mizos, and they refused to recognise the agreement.
* After Independence, in 1971, Manipur, Meghalaya, Tripura, Mizoram and Arunachal Pradesh were carved out of Assam.
* Mizoram was made a state in 1987 following the Mizo peace accord between the Mizos and the Centre. The basis for the state was the 1933 agreement, but the Mizos insist that the earlier 1875 ILR border is what they accept.
* An agreement between Assam and Mizoram to maintain status quo on no-man’s land along the border has not ended the dispute.
* Many of the residents on Assam side of the border are Bengalis, mainly Muslims, whom Mizos view with suspicion, alleging that they are undocumented migrants and would land up illegally in their state.
* In states like Mizoram, the population of Muslims grew by 122.54 per cent between 1991-2001; but given their low population in absolute numbers, this is not very significant. Muslims are just 1.3% of the total population in Mizoram