The ongoing border dispute between Mizoram and Assam, rooted in historical demarcations, has taken center stage once again as the Chief Ministers Lalduhoma and Himanta Biswa Sarma are set to meet during the North Eastern Council (NEC) plenary session on January 19 in Shillong, Meghalaya. The session, chaired by Union Home Minister Amit Shah, provides an opportunity for the leaders to address the longstanding issues and foster a peaceful resolution.
The dispute, escalating to a tragic confrontation in July 2021, resulted in the loss of lives and injuries. Since then, both states have engaged in multiple rounds of talks, emphasizing the need to maintain peace along the boundary and resolve the disagreement through dialogue. The upcoming meeting between Lalduhoma and Sarma signifies a continued effort to find a comprehensive solution.
At the heart of the conflict are colonial demarcations from 1875 and 1933, which laid the foundation for conflicting territorial claims. Mizoram asserts that a 509 square miles area of the inner line reserved forest, designated in 1875 under the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation (BEFR) 1873, falls within its territory. On the other hand, Assam relies on the 1933 Survey of India map as its Constitutional boundary, leading to overlapping claims and jurisdictional challenges.
Importantly, there is a lack of ground demarcation of boundaries between the two states, adding complexity to the resolution process. The absence of clear demarcation has exacerbated tensions and contributed to incidents such as the unfortunate clash in 2021.
In recent discussions with Union Home Minister Amit Shah, Chief Minister Lalduhoma expressed the commitment to finding a political resolution to the border dispute. The emphasis on political dialogue underscores the need for a diplomatic approach that considers historical contexts and involves all stakeholders.
In an effort to address border-related issues comprehensively, Lalduhoma announced the establishment of a boundary committee involving all stakeholders. This proactive step demonstrates a commitment to inclusive decision-making and the recognition that sustainable solutions require the involvement of those directly affected by the dispute.
As the leaders prepare to meet during the NEC plenary session, the focus is not only on resolving immediate concerns but also on establishing a framework for future cooperation. The tragic events of 2021 serve as a stark reminder of the importance of finding lasting solutions to avoid further disputes and violence.
The Mizoram-Assam border dispute highlights the complexities that historical demarcations can pose to contemporary governance. It is crucial for both states to engage in open, transparent, and inclusive dialogue, considering the perspectives of local communities and leveraging diplomatic channels to find a middle ground.
The upcoming meeting between Chief Ministers Lalduhoma and Himanta Biswa Sarma presents a crucial opportunity for diplomatic breakthroughs. The NEC plenary session, chaired by Union Home Minister Amit Shah, adds a layer of official oversight and underscores the national commitment to regional harmony. As both states navigate the delicate path to resolution, the hope is that this meeting will mark a significant step towards lasting peace and cooperation in the northeastern region.