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Border clash: Amit Shah urges Assam, Mizoram CMs to maintain peace

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Silchar (Assam)/Aizawl, July 27. As the Assam-Mizoram border row turned violent on Monday with a spate of clashes and five Assam Police personnel being shot dead, Union Home Minister Amit Shah talked over phone with both the Chief Ministers and urged them to maintain peace and protect the people.

Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, who on Tuesday rushed to the border area, said that to protect the state’s reserve forest, his government would soon move the Supreme Court and deploy three commando battalions, comprising 4,000 personnel, along the inter-state border.

He said Assam would, at any cost, protect its territory and the reserve forest along the Mizoram border for the sake of the future generations.

Paying tributes to five killed policemen, he announced a government job and Rs 50 lakh as compensation to their next of kin and Rs one lakh for the 42 policemen and civilians injured in the border firing and clashes.

Sarmaa said said that Shah’s instructions, Union Home Secretary Alok Bhalla would meet the Chief Secretaries of both states.

Referring to Monday’s firing from the other side, Sarma urged his Mizoram counterpart Zoramthanga to probe how a section of the civilians are carrying and using sophisticated arms.

“If the civilians of Mizoram carry sophisticated arms and ammunition, it would not only be very harmful for Assam but would be dangerous for Mizoram as well.”

He also assured that his government would provide security to the Mizo people, traders and students in Assam.

“We would not encroach an inch of land of Mizoram and we would die but would not allow them to take over an inch of our territory as well,” the emotional Chief Minister told the media after holding a series of meetings with officials.

Sarma said that the Union Home Minister, during his meeting with all the eight Chief Ministers of the northeastern states on Saturday in Shillong, had announced that the inter-state border disputes would be resolved before India celebrates 75 years of Independence next year.

Citing satellite imagery, he said that it is evident from many documents and evidence that reserve forest lands of Assam are occupied by Mizo people, who destroy the forest resources.

“It might be that some people in Mizoram are annoyed after the Assam government curtailed the drugs trading chain from Myanmar to other parts of India via Mizoram and Assam,” he claimed.

An Assam government statement said that there was unprovoked firing from the Mizoram side as its senior state officials, led by an Inspector General of Police, had requested Mizoram Police and officials to dismantle unauthorised constructions on the Assam side, leading to the death of five policemen, including a sub-inspector, and injuries to many other security personnel.

“The Assam officials suddenly were surrounded and attacked by a mob of miscreants, brandishing weapons and wearing helmets, from the Mizoram side and that was visibly supported by the Mizoram Police.

“While the mob pelted stones on the Assam officials and destroyed three vehicles including the Deputy Commissioner’s car, the Mizoram Police simultaneously fired tear gas shells on the delegation. The IGP was injured in this barrage.

“Horrifically, even while SP, Kolasib district (of Mizoram) was in talks with the Assam officers, the Mizoram Police opened fire on the Assam officials and civilians, who had by then gathered there, from two dominating high features with automatic weapons including Light Machine Guns.

“The Assam Police and officials have shown remarkable restraint in the face of an unimaginably horrific attack on them that is borne out by the fact that there are no casualties on the Mizoram side…,” the statement said.

On the other hand, Mizoram Home Minister Lalchamliana said that around armed 200 Assam Police personnel, led by an IGP, and accompanied by Cachar Deputy Commissioner and Superintendent of Police, and Divisional Forest Officer, on Monday came to the Vairengte auto-rickshaw stand, forcibly crossed the post manned by CRPF personnel, and overran a duty post manned by the Mizoram Police personnel.

He also claimed the Assam Police also damaged several vehicles travelling along the National Highway between Vairengte and Lailapur.

“The confrontation continued and a volley of tear gas canisters and grenades were launched at Mizoram Police followed by firing from the Assam side.

“Mizoram Police responded spontaneously by firing back at Assam Police in spite of the fact that SP, Kolasib District was still inside CRPF duty camp negotiating with the Assam Police authorities,” Lalchamliana said in a statement.

The Mizoram Government “strongly condemns the unjustified act of the Government of Assam in this intrusion and aggression into the territory of Mizoram”, it said.

According to Assam Police, since October last year, several inter-state border skirmishes have taken place along the 164.6 km border in which one man was killed, and over 50 people injured, besides large scale damage caused to properties, including government-run schools, shops and houses along the border.

The Assam Chief Minister had claimed that 1,777 hectares of forest land in the three districts bordering Mizoram have been encroached by Mizos, but Mizoram Chief Secretary Lalnunmawia Chuaungo dismissed it, saying that these lands had been with residents of Mizoram’s border villages for over 100 years, and hence, there is no question of encroachment.

Lalchamliana had also alleged that crops of Mizo farmers had been destroyed at Buarchep in Kolasib by the Assam Police earlier this month and demanded compensation.

The Assam-Mizoram border troubles were controlled last year following the intervention of the Union Home Minister, top Home Ministry officials, and Chief Ministers of both states and then the central paramilitary troops were deployed along the border to prevent fresh troubles.

But since June 29, the troubles along the borders have resumed after the two states accused each other of encroachment at Aitlang hnar near Mizoram’s Vairengte, which borders Assam’s Hailakandi district.

Tension further shot up when Assam officials reportedly destroyed some plantations at Buarchep on July 10 during eviction, while claiming that the people from Mizoram encroached more than six km into its territory.

Assam shares borders with six other northeastern states and has boundary disputes with four – Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya besides Mizoram. Following clashes, Central para-military forces had been deployed on the borders.

North East

CPIM veteran Bijan Dhar passes away  

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Agartala: Tripura Left Front convenor Bijan Dhar breathed his last morning at a private hospital in Kolkata on Monday.

Dhar, was airlifted to Kolkata after his health deteriorated while undergoing treatment at GB hospital in Agartala.

Earlier, CPIM state secretary Gautam Das succumbed to COVID-19 after fighting for almost a month.

Dhar was the former CPIM state secretary and was appointed as Left Front convenor after the 2018 assembly election defeat.

Dhar was on ventilation for almost two weeks and his health condition was stable. However, in the last 48 hours his health condition deteriorated and he breathed his last in the wee hours on Monday.

The CPIM leaders are preparing to bring his mortal remains to Agartala by an evening fight later today.

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Call me “Dada”, not “Sir”, Tripura CM Biplab Kumar Deb to employees

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Agartala: In what appears to be a step to boost the morale of the government employees, Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb on Sunday asked the government employees to call him “Dada” instead of “Sir”. “Call me Dada, not sir. It enhances the warmth of the relationship”, Deb told a gathering of government employees.

Deb exhorted the government employees of the state especially ASHA and Anganwadi workers of the state asking them not to dishearten as the state government was eager to improve their pay structure.

“I salute the ASHA and Anganwadi workers of my state. The level of dedication that my sisters have shown during the pandemic period deserved applause. I know, they want to hear good news from me and I am assuring you all that this government will not disappoint anyone”, Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb told a gathering of government employees at Badharghat sports school field organized by Vivekananda Vicha Manch (VVM).

VVM has emerged as a big platform of government employees, of late, and Sunday’s public rally was its first big gathering to thank the Chief Minister for the series of steps his government took for the welfare of the employees.

“I know what challenges you people are facing. Nothing is hidden in front of me. I am assuring you all everything will be taken care of in the due course of time”, he added.  Lauding the efforts of government employees Deb said, without them no government office can function.

“Due to the efforts of government employees, people can access the benefits of the state sponsored welfare schemes. But, for a prolonged period the employees did not get their right to do something freely. They were trapped in the clutches of unions. In the previous regime, Left sponsored unions used to enjoy supreme power which had reduced the whole work culture of the state to tatters. In 2018, you people showed courage and voted BJP to power”, said Deb.

“Despite fund constraints, the state government is positively working on the issues of DA and other factors pertaining to the interest of the government employees. Our government has already addressed a number of issues related to financial benefits. The ad-hoc promotion, increment for Group D, Group C employees, regularization of SSA teachers, seventh pay scale, UGC scale for professors, special benefit for LTC are to name a few. All these indicate what we want to do and we shall do what we promise”, the Chief Minister said.

The Chief Minister also asked the officials not to call him “sir” suggesting them to refer to him as “Dada” as it makes the relationship stronger and cherished. The Chief Minister also distributed clothes among children of Badharghat sports school during the programme. State BJP President Manik Saha, Minister Ram Prasad Paul, Minister Sushanta Chowdhury, MLA Mimi Majumder, state BJP Vice President and president of Vivekananda Vichar Manch Rajib Bhattacharjee also spoke on the occasion.

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North East

Security tightened up as pandals go open for hoppers

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Agartala: The festive spirit is visible in the major markets and city malls as prime city roads were found to be flooded with people out either for Pandal hopping or shopping. Moreover, security arrangements had also been tightened up along with enforcement of strict traffic guidelines to avoid unnecessary congestion in the times of Puja.

A good number of TSR and Police Jawans would be pressed into action for hassle free passage of the Puja days. In the meantime, adequate measures are also being taken to hold the Covid 19 at bay as apprehensions of a possible third wave is still running thick and fast in medical circles.

Like previous years, Agartala city is again the centre of attraction with big marquees and adorable lighting works. But this year, the Puja organisers have kept their whole focus on crowd management and erected the pandals in a way that the idol could be sighted from faraway places.

“We have put in place all the precautionary measures to ensure that no unscientific gathering takes place inside or at the premises of the Puja compound. Good numbers of volunteers, who have been trained about the whole situation of Covid 19, are engaged to maintain the Crowd. We pray that Maa Durga bless the whole mankind with a protective shield against this virus (Covid)”, said Sanjay Saha, Secretary of Puja committee Netaji Play Forum Centre, one of the prominent big-ticket Puja organisers of Agartala City.

On the security front, West Tripura superintendent of police Manik Das said, “we have taken ample steps to extend a full-proof blanket of security all over the district. We have separated our security in two parts, one for urban areas where most of the Pujas are being organized and the other one is for the rural areas. Watchtowers, CCTVs and police assistance booths will be opened for the Puja days so that in some sort of emergency police can take swift action”.

A total of 2,176 Pujas are being organized in the state out of what Agartala city accounts for 554 Pujas alone. Altogether 865 Pujas are being held in urban areas while 1311 Pujas are being observed in the areas that come under police stations located in rural parts. For better security, 157 police assistance booths will be opened all over the state with a lion’s share of it—50 being set up in Agartala city only.

To ramp up surveillance, 98 watch towers have been already installed across the length and breadth of the state with 78 CCTV smart cameras in the city only that will assist the existing CCTV network built under Agartala Smart City mission. The police department has carefully chosen the location keeping in mind the areas that draw massive crowds on festive occasions.

Apart from that, 7,660 uniformed personnel would be pressed into duty that accounts for a total of 4,242 TSR personnel and 3,418 police personnel in total. Total 08 platoons of CRPF have been also deployed under the limits of eight select police stations.
As a part of the Covid 19 precautions, thermal scanning will be arranged in the Puja pandals to isolate and trace symptomatic people who could be susceptible to the infection.

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