North-East India – Security and Developmental Issues

Assam-Mizoram Boundary Dispute

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not much

Mains level : Turmoil in the NE region

Five Assam police personnel were killed in an exchange of fire with the Mizoram Police after the protracted border row between the two northeastern States took a violent turn.

Assam-Mizoram Boundary Dispute

  • At the heart of the dispute over the 165-km Assam-Mizoram boundary are two border demarcations that go back to the days of British colonial rule, and disagreement over which demarcation to follow.
  • British tea plantations surfaced in the Cachar plains – the Barak Valley that now comprises the districts of Cachar, Hailakandi and Karimganj — during the mid-19th century.
  • Their expansion led to problems with the Mizos whose home was the Lushai Hills.
  • In August 1875, the southern boundary of Cachar district was issued in the Assam Gazette.
  • The Mizos say this was the fifth time the British had drawn the boundary between the Lushai Hills and the Cachar plains, and the only time when it was done in consultation with Mizo chiefs.

Creation of new states

  • But in 1933, the boundary between Lushai Hills and the then princely state of Manipur was demarcated – it said the Manipur boundary began from the trijunction of Lushai Hills, Cachar district of Assam and Manipur state.
  • The Mizos do not accept this demarcation, and point to the 1875 boundary which was drawn in consultation with their chiefs.
  • In the decades after Independence, states and UTs were carved out of Assam – Nagaland (1963), Arunachal Pradesh (UT 1972, formerly NEFA), Meghalaya (UT 1972), Mizoram (UT 1972).

A matter of perception

  • Mizoram says Assam has been pushing its people 10-12 km inside their territory.
  • Mizoram’s official stand is that the boundary should be demarcated on the basis of notification in 1875 that distinguished the Lushai Hills (erstwhile district of Assam that became Mizoram) from the plains of Cachar.
  • The notification is based on the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation Act, 1873, which makes it obligatory for Indians beyond to possess a travel document to enter Mizoram.
  • Assam also has border disputes with Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, and Nagaland.
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