At least five Assam Police personnel were killed in violent clashes between Assam and Mizoram on Monday at a contested border point where tensions had been escalating due to the age-old boundary dispute. Including Nimbalkar Vaibhav Chandrakant, SP of Assam’s Cachar district who sustained a bullet injury in the leg, fifty other policemen were injured too.

Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma confirmed the demise of state police personnel in a Twitter post, said: “I am deeply pained to inform that six brave jawans of @assampolice have sacrificed their lives while defending constitutional boundary of our state at the Assam-Mizoram border. My heartfelt condolences to the bereaved families.”

It was only later when a statement from the Assam government later that five personnel had died — SI Swapan Roy and constables Liton Suklabaidya, MH Barbhuyia, N Hussain and S Barbhuiya. Sarma alleged Assam Police personnel for using Light Machine Guns (LMG). He said “This is sad, unfortunate and speaks volumes about the intention and gravity of the situation.”

Mizoram CM Zoramthanga informed about no tension in the area for more than a year after the Centre had intervened. “Yesterday, after the North-East Chief Ministers’ meeting in Shillong, I had passed the area and everything was normal. This morning, the IGP of Assam and about 200 Assam policemen came to the Mizoram side. Because it was only a stone’s throw away from our sub-divisional headquarters, it created a tense situation. Firing started on both sides and there were casualties,” he said.

Recently, Sarma and Zoramthanga had sparred publicly on Twitter, accusing each other’s state of inciting trouble. This tweet war compelled Home Minister Amit Shah to step in. Two days before the firing incident Shah met the Chief Ministers of the North-East states for a closed-door discussion on inter-state boundary issues plaguing the region. Therein, he urged the two CMs to immediately bring an end to the violence to which both assured resolve dispute through discussions, sources reported.

For the last month, a tensed situation has prevailed at the Assam-Mizoram border along the Cachar-Kolasib districts, with security personnel of both states deployed at the border. Though it was not clear which side fired first on Monday but each side blamed the other. According to Assam Police officers, “miscreants” from the Mizo side started pelting stones at government officials at Lailapur town on the Cachar border.