Essential supplies limp back to normalcy; over 1,300 vehicles enter from Assam since blockade lifted

Aizawl: Even after the withdrawal of the travel advisory issued by the Assam government on July 29, the economic blockade on National Highway (NH) 306 allegedly imposed by certain groups in Dholai-Lailapur area in Assam’s Cachar district entered the 12th day on Friday, a Mizoram top official said.

Mizoram chief secretary Lalnunmawia Chuaungo told reporters in Aizawl on Friday that no vehicles have entered the state till Friday despite the withdrawal of a travel advisory issued recently by Assam government.

He said the Mizoram government is in constant contact and has communicated to its Assam counterpart, which has promised to take necessary steps for resumption of traffic movement from the neighbouring state.

“It is unfortunate that no vehicle carrying goods and passengers entered Mizoram from Assam till date despite the withdrawal of the travel advisory following Thursday’s talk. The government is in constant touch with both the Centre and Assam government. I have also conversed with Assam chief secretary, who assured us of immediate steps to clear the road,” Chuaungo said.

He expressed hope that the road will be cleared soon.

The unannounced indefinite economic blockade allegedly backed by the Assam government has been imposed on NH-306 in Assam’s Cachar district since July 26 following the violent clash over inter-state boundary dispute.

Mizoram alleged that railways tracks linking the state were damaged in at least three locations in Assam’s Hailakandi district.

The alleged blockade has choked all supplies, including medical consigment and COVID-19 equipment.

NH-306 is the lifeline of Mizoram linking the hilly state with rest of the country through Assam’s Silchar town.

More than 90 per cent of supplies come to the state via this road.

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Earlier on Thursday, the Assam government had issued a fresh notification revoking the advisory issued on July 29 against travel to Mizoram.

The withdrawal came hours after the meeting of ministers and officials of Mizoram and Assam, in which both sides had resolved to maintain peace and resolved the inter-state boundary dispute amicably through bilateral talks.

The meeting had welcomed deployment of neutral Central forces and agreed to not send their respective police forces and forest officials for patrolling in the border areas.

Representatives of both states also agreed to not reinforce their respective police forces and avoid fresh deployment in any of the areas where confrontation and conflict have taken place in recent times.

In the meeting held in Aizawl, the Mizoram delegation headed by home minister Lalchamliana had expressed regret for the death of seven Assamese and conveyed deepest condolences to the bereaved families.

The delegation had also prayed speedy recovery for the injured people.

Assam border protection and development minister Atul Bora told reporters after the meet that the border talks will be elevated to chief minister level talks in the future.

“We have a fruitful meeting. This is just the beginning of the negotiations and we have agreed that more discussions should be held in the near future where chief ministers of both states will be present,” Bora had said.

Lalchamliana had also said they have agreed to hold regular talks at least once in a month to find amicable solution the vexed boundary issue.

Mizoram Information and Public Relations Minister Lalruatkima said that more than 30 people, including non-tribals, are currently stranded in Mizoram House in Silchar due to the blockade.

Several Mizoram residents are also stranded in Guwahati and Shillong, he said.

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Meanwhile, Cachar SP Raman Dhillon said that the government has encouraged people to travel to Mizoram even before the travel advisory was withdrawn but they were reluctant because of fear.

“The government has never restricted but encouraging people to travel to Mizoram even before the travel advisory was withdrawn. It seems people are reluctant because of apprehension of being attacked,” she said.

She said that two vehicles have been vandalised by unidentified people somewhere between Silchar and Lailapur when they tried to move towards Mizoram on Friday.

Investigation is on into the incident, she said.

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