Assam-Mizoram border row: Deeper issues that connect and divide NE states

Northeast, Assam, Mizoram, Nagaland, Tripura
Both Assam and Mizoram claim some portions of border areas as their own. | Image - Eunice Dhivya

Ummat and Phuldungsei are sleepy tribal villages nestled in two remote corners of Northeast India. Some of the residents from both these villages, separated by more than 500 kilometres, enjoy a dubious advantage of voting and drawing rations from two states.

There are several such villages in the region as in many places boundaries between states remain contested, often triggering inter-state conflicts akin to one witnessed recently between Assam and Mizoram, and Mizoram and Tripura, laying bare a major chink in India’s nationhood concept.

“When we could resolve the boundary issue with Bangladesh, why can’t north-eastern states resolve their inter-state boundary disputes? We are not different countries. We are states of the same country,” Home Minister Amit Shah said at a meeting of the BJP-led North East Democratic Alliance (NEDA) in Guwahati in September last year.

Incidentally, all the ruling parties in the seven-sister states of Northeast are part of the NEDA, and Shah mistakenly assumed that the common political identity would obliterate the much deeper ethno-nationalistic and territorial aspirations of myriad ethnic groups that are in the root of these conflicts.

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