Assam-Nagaland ink agreement to withdraw police from contested border territories in Mokokchung

District administration and police of Mokokchung district and Jorhat district at Aosenden village. (Photo Courtesy: Mokokchung DC)

District administration and police of Mokokchung district and Jorhat district at Aosenden village. (Photo Courtesy: Mokokchung DC)

Morung Express News
Dimapur | July 31

The Assam and Nagaland state governments on July 31 formally put to paper an agreement to withdraw its police forces from the contested territories in Tzürangkong, Mokokchung district. 

As stated in the agreement, the withdrawal of forces was to “begin immediately” on Saturday afternoon and completed in 24 hours “as far as possible.” 

The agreement was signed by the Chief Secretaries of the two neighbouring states in the presence of Assam Education Minister Ranoj Pegu and Nagaland Deputy Chief Minister Y Patton in Dimapur.  

The agreement stated that the step was taken “with a view to de-escalating the tense situation prevailing in two locations” in the Tzürangkong valley due to standoffs between the armed police forces of Assam and Nagaland.  The valley is known to the Assamese as Dessoi.  

The two contested sites— Aosenden and Vikuto, as per the agreement, are known as “Jankhona Nala/Nagajankha and Compartment No. 12,” respectively, in Assam. 

“It is decided by both sides that the security personnel of both states shall simultaneously move back from their present locations to their respective base camps,” it said, while adding that the Superintendents of Police of the districts of Mokokchung (Nagaland) and Jorhat (Assam) will ensure the orderly withdrawal of their respective forces and “shall be responsible for it in the instant case.

The two states also agreed to monitor the contested territory by using drones and satellite imagery “with a view to maintaining the status quo.”

Following the signing, Nagaland Dy CM Y Patton told the media that the day’s agreement was related to Aosenden and Vikuto only and the government will take up the case of other border flashpoints. He added that the status of the Assam Police outpost in Longtho will also be taken up. Longtho is located some 16-18km from Aosenden well inside Nagaland on the Mariani-Mokokchung road. 

While reiterating that Nagaland would not withdraw its forces if Assam does not, he informed that the agreement was a follow up to the Nagaland and Assam Chief Ministers’ meeting with Union Home Minister Amit Shah on July 24-25. 

He said that the CMs “agreed in principle” for withdrawals of police forces.  “Accordingly, we have signed this agreement and immediately we will ask both the state police outposts to withdraw from Vikuto and Aosenden.”

According to Patton, he also asked the Assam Education Minister Ranoj Pegu to look into the alleged harassment faced by Nagas at several checkpoints while travelling through Assam and the frequent promulgation of CrPC 144 by the Sivasagar administration. 

On this, Pegu said that he will discuss it with the Assam CM and appropriate actions would be taken. He said, “We have signed an agreement for simultaneous withdrawal of our forces in the Mariani area and I hope we will be able to maintain the cordial relationship between the two states.”

Assam-Mizoram and Assam-Nagaland border issues cannot be compared, he stated and added that in the case of the latter, “We are quiet and comfortable here and whatever issues are there both the governments are in talking terms. So, we’ll discuss and resolve those issues.”

Following the Chief Secretary level meeting, the district administration and police of Nagaland’s Mokokchung district and Assam’s Jorhat district jointly monitored withdrawal of their respective police forces from the disputed border posts to their base camps.

Mokokchung Deputy Commissioner Limawapang Jamir, who had been camping at the border since Friday, said that he along with the Mokokchung Superintendent of Police, Border Magistrate and other officers met the district administration of Jorhat at Mariani on Saturday. He said that while their meeting was going on, they received the minutes of the Chief Secretary level meeting. Consequently, a joint committee comprising of ADC Mangkolemba, ADC Jorhat, Additional SPs of Mokokchung and Jorhat, and concerned SDPOs and Border Magistrates of the two neighbouring districts was constituted and the team moved to Aosenden village.

DC Limawapang further said that they inspected the police posts at Aosenden village and that dismantling works began immediately. “The joint committee will photograph each and every barrack, bunker and all other structures of both sides before and after dismantling and both sides have mutually agreed to withdraw forces,” he said. The “initiative for withdrawal of forces has already begun,” he emphasized.