Assam Police Accused Of Theft By Neighbouring Mizoram

Assam has denied the allegation saying Mizoram was trying to divert attention from the "illegal construction" on Assam soil.

Assam Police Accused Of Theft By Neighbouring Mizoram

A long-running border row between Assam and Mizoram worsened suddenly in July.

Guwahati:

A day after accusing the Assam police of "stealing" construction material in Kolasib district which shares the border with the neighbouring state's Hailakandi, Mizoram has withdrawn a case filed in the matter. The matter was settled after the "stolen" materials were returned Sunday evening, sources have said.

Both states have decided to pull back the additional forces deployed at site following the incident, officials said.

The incident took place on Friday after the Assam police personnel entered Mizoram's Zophai area in Kolasib's Bairabi subdivision, where a bridge is being built, District Deputy Commissioner H Lalthlangliana has informed Rohan Jha, his Hailakandi counterpart.

"Assam police created problems for the workers on the site and even stole some construction materials, including pieces of iron rods...A police case of theft of construction materials has been filed against them at the Bairabi Police Station," Mr Lalthlangliana has said in a letter written yesterday to Mr Jha. He has also conveyed the information over a phone call, officials said.

The Assam government alleged on Sunday that Mizoram officials had entered its territory in Hailakandi and begun constructing a bridge, PTI reported.

"The Officer In-Charge (OC) of Ramnathpur police station and his patrolling team immediately reached the spot and stopped the construction work, calling it a trespass by Mizoram as they had no authority to build a bridge on the Assam side," Hailakandi Superintendent of Police Gaurav Upadhyay told the news agency.

"In order to assert the position of Assam and to ask Mizoram forces to retreat from the Assam side of the bridge, a party of around 200 Assam police personnel and commandos under my leadership and other senior officials reached Kachurthal on Sunday morning."

He rubbished the allegation of theft saying the neighbouring state was trying to divert attention from the "main issue, that is illegal construction by Mizoram authorities on Assam soil."

"The allegation of any theft by a disciplined force like Assam Police is absolutely concocted, baseless, malafide and devoid of any facts," Mr Upadhyay said.

Three districts of Mizoram -- Kolasib, Aizawl, and Mamit -- share a 165 kilometre border with three of Assam's in the Barak Valley -- Hailakandi, Cachar, and Karimganj. The border is disputed in at least five spots.

After central paramilitary forces were deputed in the disputed area between Cachar and Kolasib following an inter-state police clash in July, in which six Assam personnel died and around 60 were injured, the dispute has shifted, of late, to Hailakandi-Kolasib.

Some persons had bombed an empty school in the area; the Assam police, too, were engaged in alleged gun battles with those claiming to be Mizo civilians.

Mr Lalthlangliana, however, said Friday's incident may not be considered a boundary issue as it was a site under construction to connect roads.

"However, government servants committing an act that can be interpreted as theft of government property is very disappointing and considered very serious," said Mr Lalthlangliana.