With Assam constantly under attack from the Ulfa and hit by bandhs, Arunachal Pradesh has sought a “peace corridor” to mainland India. Alternatively, the state wants the reopening of traditional border trade points with Bhutan, China and Myanmar to offload its farm produce rather than depend on Assam.
Arguably the most trouble-prone state in the Northeast, Assam is often regarded by its neighbouring states as a liability. Its position on the region’s map — the six hill states surround it — often makes its neighbours suffer economically. If Mizoram has been sulking, “island of peace” Arunachal has made it known it can “take it no more”.
“We want an east-west highway to improve connectivity between Arunachal Pradesh and the rest of the country, preferably without touching
Assam,” said Arunachal Chamber of Commerce and Industries president Techi Lala Tara. “We envisage it as a high-security corridor of peace
that would not be affected by Assam’s law and order situation; if not, give us a passage through Bhutan.”
Chief Minister Gegong Apang endorses the idea. “Tourism and trade in our state suffers because of Assam. This is the reason why we have been demanding airports in Arunachal Pradesh. We don’t want to depend on Assam all the time for link with the world beyond.” According to Union Minister of State for Commerce Jairam Ramesh, Arunachal’s grievance is genuine. “Maybe, the people here are too peaceful for anyone to listen to their demands,” he said, adding that the Centre is considering opening traditional trade points along the international border.