Assam blockade lifted, over 100 vehicles enter Mizoram

The development happened after Assam and Mizoram ministers met last week to thrash out differences and agreed to maintain calm along the border and resolve their differences amicably.
An oil tanker enters Mizoram, crossing a damaged bus below Mizoram Police outpost, on the outskirts of Vairengte.
An oil tanker enters Mizoram, crossing a damaged bus below Mizoram Police outpost, on the outskirts of Vairengte.

GUWAHATI: In a huge relief for Mizoram, vehicles started moving into the landlocked state since Saturday night following the lifting of an 'economic blockade' imposed in Assam.

Some organisations in southern Assam’s Barak Valley had imposed the blockade on the roads leading to Mizoram, including National Highway 306, in protest against the July 26 skirmishes on the interstate border that left six Assam Police personnel dead.

The National Highway 306, which traverses Assam’s Cachar district, is Mizoram’s lifeline. Supplies were choked since the day of the violence in the wake of the enforcement of the blockade.

Official sources in Mizoram said over 100 vehicles, including goods-laden trucks which were stranded in Cachar, entered the state since Saturday night.

"More than 100 vehicles have entered the state so far. Two trucks carrying COVID-19 items had set out from Cachar on Saturday night but they had to go back due to stone-pelting," Mizoram’s Kolasib Superintendent of Police Vanlalfaka Ralte told this newspaper.

He said the trucks, carrying COVID-19 items, would start arriving in the state from Monday.

At the instruction of Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, ministers Ashok Singhal and Parimal Suklabaidya visited Cachar on Saturday evening and they, along with senior officials of the Cachar administration, helped restore normalcy.

The breakthrough was achieved after a series of discussions with the protestors but not before they attacked some vehicles with stones in front of the two ministers.

"They (protestors) relented in the greater interest of peace and to maintain the age-old relations between the two states," Singhal said.

Mizoram Minister Lalruatkima thanked the Assam government for its efforts in engaging with the protestors and convincing them to lift the blockade.

Mizoram Health Minister R Lalthangliana had on Saturday blamed the blockade for the recent deaths of COVID-19 patients in the state.

“COVID-19 patients are dying for want of medicines. Seriously-ill patients are in dire needs of life-saving drugs,” he had said.

Official sources had said the RT-PCR lab at the Zoram Medical College in Aizawl was facing an acute shortage of essential testing reagents which resulted in sample testing in the state getting capped based on the available stock. 

Some drivers, however, remained reluctant to move their vehicles across the border.

Rahul Hussain, a stranded driver, said they "were willing to enter Mizoram" but demanded a written assurance for protection to be given.

The two states share a 164.6-km border between Assam's Cachar, Hailakandi and Karimganj districts, and Mizoram's Kolasib, Mamit and Aizawl districts.

Both states have differing interpretations of their territorial border.

While Mizoram believes that its border lies along an 'inner line' drawn up in 1875 to protect tribals from outside influence, Assam goes by a district demarcation done in the 1930s.

(With PTI inputs)

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