Guwahati/Silchar: Mizoram is suffering a blockade of sorts as fear of possible violence at the border and protestors enforcing a 'bandh' in Assam's Barak valley have ensured trucks to the neighbouring state have halted way ahead of the inter-state border.
Armed police forces of both states remain near the border which witnessed armed clashes and death on Monday, though officials on Wednesday confirmed forces have been pulled back by at least 100 metres, in a bid to bring back peace.
Normal life in the three districts of Assam's Barak Valley too has been affected on Wednesday due to a 12-hour bandh called to protest the killing of seven people, including six policemen, in Monday's inter-state border between Assam and Mizoram police forces.
Seven people have been killed and 50 others, including a district police chief, injured in a bloody clash along the Mizoram-Assam inter-state border on Monday.
All business establishments remained closed and few vehicles plied on the roads of Assam's border districts of Cachar, Hailakandi and Karimganj. Emergency services were however exempted from the purview of the Barak Valley bandh that began at 5 AM.
Train services, also have remained unaffected so far, a spokesperson of the Northeast Frontier (NF) Railway said.
The bandh, called by Barak Democratic Front (BDF) and supported by political outfits including opposition AIUDF and social organisations, was "total" though there was no report of any violence from any district, another official said.
BDF Chief Convenor Pradip Dutta Ray said that people have spontaneously extended their support to the bandh.
"We were compelled to call this bandh as our police personnel have died and there must be a permanent solution to the dispute we do not want any more bloodshed," he said.
Several social organisations in Hailakandi district blocked roads leading to Mizoram and launched an indefinite "economic blockade" to prevent the movement of goods-carrying trucks to the neighbouring state.
The chief secretaries and director generals of police of Assam and Mizoram will hold talks over the issue in New Delhi during the day under the aegis of the Union Home Ministry.
A seven-member Congress delegation, led by newly appointed state unit chief Bhupen Bora, was scheduled to visit the disputed boundary to review the prevailing situation.
Hailakandi Superintendent of Police Ramandeep Kaur has been posted as the new Cachar police chief following serious injuries to incumbent Vaibhav Chandrakant Nimbalkar in the bloody inter-state border clash.
Kaur will be replaced by Chirang police chief Gaurav Upadhaya, a notification issued by the Assam government said.
Upadhaya will be replaced by Pranjit Bora, currently serving as the Guwahati Deputy Commissioner of Police (Traffic).
Nimbalkar was airlifted to Mumbai for better treatment, while three others were shifted to Gauhati Medical College and Hospital on Tuesday.
The death toll in the clash increased to seven on the previous day as critically injured Shyamprasad Dusat of the 6th Assam Police Battalion succumbed to his abdominal bullet injury at Silchar Medical College and Hospital on Tuesday night.
Tension along the inter-state border in Cachar and Hailakandi districts has been escalating since October last year, with frequent incidents of burning of houses and encroachment of land.
On October 22, 2020, high-level talks were held under the aegis of the Union Home Ministry where it was decided to maintain the status-quo and resolve the dispute through discussions.
However, tension flared up again in February and since then people had fled their houses near Gallacherra border outpost after two huts were burnt down.
After a lull of few months, a grenade was hurled on an Assam government team visiting the border by unknown attackers from Mizoram on July 10, while two back-to-back explosions were heard from across the border in the wee hours on July 11. Armed police from both sides were as a consequence posted at the inter-state border.
A high-level meeting between officials of both the states, including the chief secretaries and DGPs, was also held in New Delhi earlier this month, to sort out the dispute.
Union Home Minister Amit Shah too visited Shillong last week to hold a meeting of chief ministers of North Eastern states to try sort out border disputes that they have.
However, despite these moves firing between opposing police forces broke out on Monday. This is not the first instance of a border row in the northeast turning into a shooting match. There have been previous instances of such flare-ups between Assam and Nagaland police in 1985.
Mizoram was a district of Assam before it was carved out as a separate union territory in 1971 after years of insurgency. Till Mizoram became a separate entity, the district's borders did not really matter for locals. However, over time the border issue cropped up as perceptions over where the boundary should be, differed.
While Mizoram wants it to be along an inner line notified in 1875 to protect tribals from outside influence which Mizos feel is part of their historical homeland, Assam wants it to be demarcated according to district demarcation done much later. The two states share a 164.6-km border between the Assam's districts of Cachar, Hailakandi and Karimganj, and Mizoram's Kolasib, Mamit and Aizawl districts.