At least 1,000 vehicles entered Mizoram from Assam since blockade lifted
More than 1,000 vehicles have entered Mizoram ever since the informal economic blockade along the border with Assam by a few Assamese groups was called off on Saturday, Mizoram Police said on Tuesday.
Around 300 vehicles have safely moved towards Assam till Tuesday afternoon, they added.
“The situation has normalised and no vehicles were stopped by locals on either side...But we are keeping a strict vigil in the area,” Cachar district superintendent of police Ramandeep Kaur said.
As many as 1,037 vehicles have entered Mizoram from Assam between Saturday night and Tuesday afternoon, police said. This includes 381 heavy and 281 medium weight vehicles carrying essential goods, 285 light vehicles carrying passengers, 30 LPG tankers and 45 oil tankers.
From the Mizoram side, 294 vehicles entered Assam through the Lailapur border till 12pm on Tuesday. This includes 83 heavy vehicles, 67 medium weight vehicles carrying essential goods, 123 light vehicles and 19 oil tankers.
Superintendent of police of Kolasib district in Mizoram, Vanlalfaka Ralte, said, “We are supervising each movement along the border. The challenge is to maintain the situation so that drivers and passengers do not hesitate to move.”
An informal economic blockade was observed by the Assamese groups in Lailapur after a fierce gunbattle at a disputed border left six policemen dead and 41 others injured on July 26.
Assam claimed Mizoram police opened fire on its forces who objected to a road being constructed by Mizoram on a patch of forested land it claims. Mizoram claimed the land belongs to it. The clashes led some residents on the Assam side to block some sections of National Highway 306, disrupting transportation to the neighbouring state.
At a meeting called by Union home secretary Ajay Kumar Bhalla on July 29, the two sides agreed to withdraw their police forces in the four-km disputed stretch which runs between Vairengte in Mizoram and Lailapur in Assam along NH-306. They also agreed to the deployment of central paramilitary troops in the area till a permanent solution is found.
On Saturday, guardian minister of Cachar district Ashok Singhal and minister of excise, forest & environment and fisheries, Parimal Suklabaidya, visited Lailapur border to lift the blockade.
After a two-hour meeting, locals in Assam allowed the movement of vehicles but threatened to resume the blockade if no action was taken against Mizoram police officials who were involved in the July 26 firing. They also asked that the IR battalion of Mizoram be moved from the disputed areas, leaving it to neutral forces.
“We have lost our police officials and some part of Assam’s land. We cannot tell them (the Centre) what to do but if justice is not served, our protest will resume. Our brothers have sacrificed their lives to save the land and we just can’t let it go so easily,” one of the locals told HT on condition of anonymity.
Forest minister Parimal Suklabaidya and Member of Parliament from Silchar, Rajdeep Roy, supported the demands of the Lailapur locals. While Suklabaidya told HT he will move the Supreme Court, Roy said he will talk to Union home minister Amit Shah to seek action against the Mizoram police personnel.
Executive magistrate of Mizoram’s Kolasib district, Carolyne Pachuau, said, “Now that the blockade has been withdrawn, the Mizoram government has exempted truck drivers from mandatory Covid test in order to encourage them. We discussed this with the local people and they have agreed not to create any such situation that hampers the peace process.”
“Barak Valley of Assam always threatens Mizoram with economic blockade which only causes suffering to the common people...In that sense, this is a wake-up call and Mizoram has started thinking of alternatives in such situations,” she added.