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Tension escalates in Assam-Mizoram border
ZODIN SANGA
 AIZAWL, March 8 - Tensions were mounting along Assam-Mizoram northwestern border today as Assam police and paramilitary forces were up against activists of Mizo Zirlai Pawl (Mizo Students Association) who were trying to construct a resting shed on what is claimed to be the territory of Mizoram near Bairabi border town.

Several student activists were injured in the lathi-charge by Assam police. Sources said journalists were also among those injured. However, the injuries were said to be not serious.

About a hundred MZP activists from Aizawl and Bairabi went to Zophai paddy field, belonging to late Chief Minister of Mizoram Ch Chhunga, to construct the rest house on Thursday.

“Personnel of Assam police and para-military forces were already deployed on the spot. As the Assam police did not allow the MZP members to construct the rest shed, a tussle followed. Several MZP activists and some journalists were injured in the skirmishes,” reported a journalist from Bairabi.

According to eyewitnesses, about 500 Assam Police personnel were guarding the area and dismantling every new post the students build. “So far there is no violence, the students erected poles and posts for building the shed, but the Assam Police dismantled them,” said the journalist.

The MZP had on February 28 built a rest shed on the same spot with permission obtained from Ch Chhunga’s widow. Assam Police and Assam Forest officials demolished it later in the night. The student body vowed to rebuild it despite Mizoram Home Minister R Lalzirliana’s appeal to withdraw.

The MZP claims that the land belongs to former Mizoram Chief Minister Ch Chhunga’s wife Lalrothangi who had donated it to them for construction of a rest shed.

Sources said that the district magistrate of Hailakandi district in Assam has imposed CrPCC section 144 in the area.

There has been several Mizoram-Assam boundary disputes in the recent past. The Assam Police and Forest department have made several constructions along the inner line reserve which had infuriated the Mizos who claim that the inner line reserve forest belonged to them.

Reports said that the Mizoram Government has not deployed its police forces at the boundary. Home Minister R Lalzirliana on Tuesday appealed to the student body not to reconstruct the rest shed to avoid further escalation of tensions across the border.

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