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Centre convenes Chief Secy-level talks


NEW DELHI, March 13 - The Centre has a convened a Chief Secretary-level meeting on March 20 to defuse tension along the Assam-Mizoram border, Joint Secretary (Northeast) Satyendra Garg said here today.

Briefing newsmen, the Joint Secretary said that the Union Home Secretary will chair the meeting between the Chief Secretaries of Assam and Mizoram in an attempt to resolve the tension brewing along the inter-state border.

The Centre�s action came following a letter by Mizoram Chief Minister Lalthanhawla to Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh seeking government intervention on the issue, Garg said, adding the Chief Minister of Mizoram was requested to maintain peace.

Replying to a question, the Joint Secretary said the Centre has so far not received any request from the Government of Assam for additional forces. But if such a request is made, then it would be considered, he said.

Garg said tension flared up about two weeks back in the Assam-Mizoram border areas. Some people wanted to undertake some construction work that had to be stopped using force. The use of force was a consequence of assembly of people in the area.

Asked about the present status, the Joint Secretary said that they have been told that the Government of Mizoram has convened an all-party meeting to discuss the issue. The Centre is apprehensive following reports of a Mizoram organisation calling for assembly of people in the border area on Wednesday.

Replying to questions about the inter-state border dispute between Assam and Nagaland, and Assam and Arunachal Pradesh, Garg said the expert committee�s report on border dispute has been submitted to the Supreme Court and a verdict is awaited. The Chief Secretaries of Assam and Meghalaya are talking to resolve the border dispute, he added.

Meanwhile, talking to the media, Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju said that inter-state border clashes are very sad. �I have already asked all the Chief Ministers of the northeastern states to have a coordinated mechanism,� he said, adding, the Home Ministry has already issued certain guidelines to the states.

�There are certain local issues which unfortunately becomes major issues. All incidents should not be termed inter-state disputes. Therefore, we should have some mechanism on the ground. The Joint Secretary (Northeast) is already in touch with the Chief Secretaries of the two states (Assam and Mizoram),� Rijiju said.

�There should be restraint on the ground. We have already told all the northeastern states to resolve their boundary issues locally. And there should be political understanding on the ground, otherwise some local incidents flare up into major incidents. Status quo should be maintained at the ground level,� he said.

�It is also very sad that a journalist was manhandled by security forces (during a protest in an Assam-Mizoram border area). The forces should maintain restraint... We will get a full report, we will see,� the minister added.

Meanwhile, Garg told newsmen that the Assam government has reported to the Centre that no journalist was manhandled during the lathicharge on the protesters.

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