At the Lailapur police outpost on the Assam-Mizoram border. (Express photo by Tora Agarwala)
Over the last week, as cavalcades of cars with TV crews, politicians, security forces have descended on the border town of Lailapur in Assam, Khudar Ali has looked on quietly.
The border with Mizoram, an expanse of forested slopes that begins roughly a kilometre from his home, has been a flashpoint as far as the 68-year-old, a daily wager, can remember. But July 26 felt especially disturbing. It wasnt just that six policemen died, and scores were injured, in what was possibly the bloodiest standoff between Assam and Mizoram or that both sides have hardened their positions since. For Ali, it brought back memories of barely a year ago, when a similar maati ka tension (tension over land) had led to the death of his son Intaz.
For the first time since the clashes along the Assam-Mizoram border almost a week ago, Chief Ministers of the two states on Sunday sought to dial down the tensions between their people and security personnel.
In what can be seen as a first step towards de-escalation, the Mizoram government said it would withdraw the FIR filed against Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on July 30.
Union Home Minister Amit Shah too had a telephonic discussion with Assam CM Himanta Biswa Sarma and Mizoram CM Zoramthanga towards a peaceful resolution of the border differences. After the talks, Zoramthanga said in a tweet: in order to prevent any possible escalation of the situation, I request the people of Mizoram to avoid posting sensitive messages and make judicious use of their social media platform.