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Villagers of Assam, Mizoram meet to bring normalcy along border


Silchar, Aug 26: At a time Assam and Mizoram governments are trying to find solutions to a vexed border dispute, common people from both states have come forward to try to normalise the situation.

A team from Mizoram's Vairengte Village Council, visited Lailapur in Cachar to hold people-to-people discussions. Vairengte is a border village in Mizoram's Kolasib district. The village council is equivalent to the village panchayat on the Assam side and the local village bodies of both sides were engaged in the talks, officials said. The Vairengte team had taken this step keeping Mizoram Chief Minister Zoramthanga informed, Vairengte Joint Village Council leader Lalfangkima said.

After a deadly gun battle between police forces of the two states exactly a month ago despite a peace brokered by the Union home ministry, the situation had remained tense with truckers refusing to travel from one state to another creating artificial shortages. The meeting decided that people from both sides would be able to go to villages on the other side of the state border on business or to visit friends and relatives without any hindrance.

"If anybody wants to enter Mizoram for any business or any other genuine needs, he or she may go. The entire responsibility will be borne by the Mizo villagers. However, the visitor should return within the day," Lalfangkima said.

For entering Mizoram, one needs an Inner-Line-Permit (ILP). The village Council is allowed to give permission to enter without ILP for a day only. Both the village parties have formed a committee to oversee movement on a regular basis and have exchanged their personal phone numbers, to facilitate coordination. Lalfangkima said that both the states depend on each other in many areas, especially in business and labour exchange.

"So, we have decided to run the business in our own way till a permanent solution comes. We would like to run our life as we used to have," he added.

When contacted, Cachar Superintendent of Police Ramandeep Kaur said it was an initiative at the local level and the administration was aware of the development.

"It was not a formal official meeting, but an initiative by common people. This is a positive development to build a good long-lasting relationship between the two neighbours," she told PTI.

At least six Assam Police personnel and one civilian were killed and more than 50 people injured as the festering border dispute between the two Northeastern states erupted into a bloody conflict on July 26. Assam's Barak Valley districts of Cachar, Karimganj and Hailakandi share a 164.6 km long border with Mizoram's three districts of Aizawl, Kolasib and Mamit.

Both states have differing interpretations of their territorial border. While Mizoram believes that its border lies along an inner line drawn up in 1875 to protect tribals from outside influence, Assam goes by a district demarcation done in 1933.

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