Assam Rifles head calls on Mizoram CM, discusses issues related to standoff

Aizawl,3 Sept : Dector General of Assam Rifles (DGAR), Lt General Sukhdeep Sangwan, met Mizoram Chief Minister Zoramthanga here on Wednesday and discussed issues pertaining to the standoff between the civil administration and the country”s oldest paramilitary force, an official statement said.

Both interacted in a friendly environment and the issue of relocation of Assam Rifles headquarters to Zokhawsang on the outskirts of Aizawl from its present location in heart of the city was also discussed, it said.

The chief minister urged the Assam Rifles head to shift the paramilitary force”s base to Zokhawsang at the earliest as work on the ongoing smart city project has been halted due to a delay in the relocation.

Expressing concerns over increasing cross-border drug-trafficking and movement of people, Zoramthanga requested Assam Rifles to step up vigil along the India-Myanmar border, the statement said.

He also urged Sangwan to avoid mass inter-state movement of troops amid the COVID-19 outbreak.

The statement, however, did not divulge what Sangwan told the chief minister during the interaction.

The Assam Rifles head also met Chief Secretary Lalnunmawia Chuaungo and discussed the prevailing issues between the state government and the paramilitary force.

The standoff between the Mizoram government and Assam Rifles began on August 18 when 15 personnel of the paramilitary force”s 46 battalion allegedly forced their entry into the state without complying with safety protocols laid down by the administration to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

The state Home Department alleged that the 15 security personnel had refused to undergo mandatory screening and that 25 jawans from Aizawl were sent to the Vairengte check-gate on that day to “intimidate” the civil administration.

The state government has also accused Assam Rifles of skipping the Independence Day celebrations.

Chuaungo had on August 24 written two letters to Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla over the issues.

The paramilitary force, however, has denied the allegations and said its personnel had requested the officials of the civil administration to conduct medical screening at the Vairengte check-gate but they had refused to do it.

Assam Rifles also said its personnel had participated in the state-level Independence Day function but only its DIG and a few other senior officers had skipped the programme due to grievances over the Warrant of Precedence (WoP) notified by the state government on August 11.

The state government, however, said a brigadier or equivalent rank in Assam Rifles and other services was elevated from the rank of additional secretary to that of secretary to the state government in the new WoP.

It also said the WoP issued on August 11 has been kept in abeyance since August 14.

Meanwhile, the Central Committee of Young Mizo Association (CYMA) has set September 5 as the new deadline for Assam Rifles to tender a written apology to the people of Mizoram for allegedly molesting two women near the India- Myanmar border in Champhai district on Independence Day, besides violating COVID-19 protocols.

The organisation had earlier demanded an apology from the paramilitary force before the end of August.

“Following an appeal by senior officers of Assam Rifles during a meeting with Central YMA leaders on August 26, the organisation has now set September 5 as the new deadline for the paramilitary force to tender a written apology,” CYMA vice-president Lalhmachhuana told PTI.

“Although the paramilitary force had expressed verbal apology, we demand a written one on or before that date, failing which the organisation will decide its future course of action,” he added.

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