More than 70 people are reported hurt as the leaders of Assam and Mizoram blame each other for the deadly violence.
At least seven people, including six police officers, were killed and more than 70 hurt on Monday in clashes between two Indian states, as a weeks-long territorial dispute in the country’s northeast turned deadly.
The leaders of Assam and neighbouring Mizoram, which have been wrangling about their border for decades, blamed each other for the deadly violence.
“We have lost six of our policemen and a civilian along the Assam-Mizoram border when miscreants from Mizoram opened gunfire,” Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma told the Reuters news agency.
“This is sad, unfortunate and speaks volumes about the intention and gravity of the situation,” he posted on Twitter.
Clear evidences are now beginning to emerge that unfortunately show that Mizoram Police has used Light Machine Guns (LMG) against personnel of @assampolice. This is sad, unfortunate and speaks volumes about the intention and gravity of the situation.
— Himanta Biswa Sarma (@himantabiswa) July 26, 2021
Tensions have been building between the two states since last month when officials in Mizoram alleged that Assam police had taken over a border post. Monday’s clash took place near the town of Vairengte.
While Mizoram Chief Minister Zoramthanga did not confirm the deaths, he said in a statement that shots were fired after a 200-strong police force from Assam “forcibly crossed” a duty post.
Zoramthanga, who uses only one name, also claimed the Assam police had damaged vehicles and assaulted unarmed civilians, including a tourist couple.
Both chief ministers mounted a social media campaign to make their cases, sharing videos showing civilians armed with batons clashing with police, cars and vans overturned and another with a couple in a car with broken windows and windscreen.
Dear Himantaji, after cordial meeting of CMs by Hon’ble Shri @amitshah ji, surprisingly 2 companies of Assam Police with civilians lathicharged & tear gassed civilians at Vairengte Auto Rickshaw stand inside Mizoram today. They even overrun CRPF personnel /Mizoram Police. https://t.co/SrAdH7f7rv
— Zoramthanga (@ZoramthangaCM) July 26, 2021
Appeal for intervention
The two state heads appealed on Twitter for India’s Interior Minister Amit Shah to intervene.
Shah sought to end the tensions that built up last month and Indian media said he had called the two ministers again on Monday to try to end the violence.
Mizoram was a part of Assam until 1972 when it was split up. It became a state in its own right in 1986.
Mizoram said the area claimed by Assam has been used by its people for more than 100 years, but the Assamese insist that a large chunk of land has been forcibly seized.
Assam is ruled by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, while a regional party allied with the BJP governs Mizoram.
The far-flung and resource-rich northeastern region has been a hotbed of ethnic tensions since India’s independence in 1947.
Dozens of tribal groups and rebel armies have demanded greater autonomy or independence from India.
Borders between the seven states in the region are not clearly demarcated, leading to regular disputes over land and assets.