Silchar: The Assam government has decided to approach the Supreme Court seeking protection of Innerline Forest Reserve from destruction and encroachment, Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said on Tuesday, a day after border clashes with Mizoram left five state policemen and a civilian dead and 60 others injured.
Sarma told a press conference in Silchar that satellite images have shown that roads are being constructed and forests being cleared for jhum cultivation which cannot be allowed.
“We will move the Supreme Court to ensure that the forests are protected,” Sarma said. Jhum cultivation is a farming activity where farmland is cleared of trees and other vegetation and then set on fire. The practice is followed in most states of the northeast.
“The dispute is not regarding land but encroachment of reserved forests is the issue. We have no settlements in the forest areas and, if Mizoram can give evidence, we will immediately carry out the eviction,” he said.
This is not a political issue. This is a boundary dispute between two states. This is a long-standing border dispute. There was dispute even at the time when Congres govt was there on both sides. This is a dispute between two states, not between two political parties: Assam CM pic.twitter.com/dhuBpwDfbq
— ANI (@ANI) July 27, 2021
The Assam government, he said, will also deploy three commando battalions in Cachar, Karimganj and Hailakandi districts bordering Mizoram to strengthen security.
Assam Government will raise 3 commando battalions for Karimganj, Cachar and Hailakandi; 3000 personnel will be recruited: Assam CM Himanta Biswa Sarma
— ANI (@ANI) July 27, 2021
The Chief Minister asserted that not an inch of Assam’s land could be encroached by the neighbouring state. “People have sacrificed their lives but boundary has been protected which we will continue to do at any cost,” he asserted.
After the vexed border dispute erupted into bloody clashes with security personnel and civilians from the two states going after each other on Monday, the Centre had directed them to move away their forces from the border post.
“We have done so but Mizoram is yet to do so. Our police forces are, however, deployed 100 metres from the post,” Sarma said.
At least five Assam Police personnel were killed while defending the “constitutional boundary” of the state during which more than 60 people were also injured.
Among those injured included a Superintendent of Police, 20 officials and civilians, while several vehicles were also damaged in clashes after which Chief Ministers of the two states sought Union Home Minister Amit Shah`s urgent intervention.
Tensions have been running high ever since the Assam Police allegedly took control over an area known as ‘Aitlang hnar’ about 5 km from Vairengte, accusing the neighbouring state of encroaching on its territory in June.
However, fresh tensions escalated when the Mizoram Police said that eight farmers’ huts were set ablaze by unidentified miscreants in the Kolasib district near the Assam border.