Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma has condemned the violence in Cachar district that claimed the lives of five police personnel. Sarma said that the border dispute is not political and that the state government will move the Supreme Court seeking protection of Innerline Forest Reserve from destruction and encroachment.
Sarma said that satellite images have shown that roads are being constructed in Silchar and forests cleared for jhum cultivation which cannot be allowed. 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.
"It is a reserve forest. Can reserve forest be utilised for settlement? The dispute is not regarding land, it's regarding forest. Assam wants to protect the forest. It's not organising any settlement in the forest area, we don't want any settlement there. If Mizoram can give evidence, we will immediately carry out eviction," he told reporters a day after border clashes with Mizoram left five state policemen and a civilian dead and 60 others injured.
"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 government was there on both sides. This is a dispute between two states, not between two political parties," the Chief Minister said.
"It (violence) will be investigated where the civilians get the arms from. Five police personnel lost their lives," he opined.
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 the boundary has been protected which we will continue to do at any cost," he asserted.
Meanwhile, the Assam government, he said, will deploy three commando battalions in Cachar, Karimganj and Hailakandi districts bordering Mizoram to strengthen security.