Aizawl/Silchar– As the blockade on National Highway 306, the lifeline of Mizoram, continued for the fifth day on Sunday, Assam and Mizoram engaged in accusation and counter accusation over the 23-day long inter-state border standoff.
Officials in Silchar said that southern Assam’s Cachar Deputy Commissioner Keerthi Jalli in a letter again asked northern Mizoram’s Kolasib district DC H. Lalthangliana to withdraw the Mizoram forces from the Assam territory as the forces’ presence disturb the “local peace and normalcy”.
“Mizoram police are digging up bunker like structures and increased the strength of security personnel inside Assam territory at Kulicherra area,” the Cachar DC in her letter mentioned.
Mizoram Chief Secretary Lalnunmawia Chuaungo in a letter to his Assam counterpart Jishnu Barua said that the blockade on the NH 306 continued despite assurance from Assam government during the virtual meeting held under the chairmanship of Union Home Secretary Ajay Kumar Bhalla last week.
Chuaungo requested Barua, who took over Assam Chief Secretary’s charge on Saturday, to provide security escort to the oil tankers and vehicles carrying POL (petroleum, oil, lubricant) and cooking gas.
The Mizoram government has taken steps to ferry transport fuel and cooking gas from neighbouring Manipur and Tripura. Mizoram’s Food, Civil Supplies and Consumer Affairs Minister K. Lalrinliana said that two trucks have been sent to Manipur to bring LPG cylinders and five more oil tankers are being sent to the state.
The department’s Director Lalhriatzuali Ralte said that with the help of Indian Oil Corporation Ltd, similar efforts are on to bring transport fuel and LPG from Tripura.
A senior official in Aizawl said that Bhalla in his second meeting urged both Assam and Mizoram Chief Secretaries to take steps to withdraw security personnel from the inter-state border.
The inter-state border trouble resurfaced after a fortnight on Wednesday along Assam’s Cachar and Karimganj districts, which share mountainous borders with two Mizoram districts Mamit and Kolasib.
Due to the NH 306 blockade at Lailapur (in Cachar district), around 200 Mizoram bound goods-laden vehicles are stuck while around 100 Assam bound vehicles from Mizoram returned to the state.
Also, the agitators in southern Assam refused to call off their blockade – now into its fifth day – of NH 306, seeking withdrawal of security personnel from Assam’s territory.
Mizoram Home Minister Lalchamliana had also said in Aizawl that his government would not withdraw its forces from the state border with Assam till normalcy returns.
Lalchamliana’s announcement came after senior officials of the two neighbouring states held a series of meetings early last month and the Mizoram government officials, according to the Assam government, reportedly agreed to withdraw their forces gradually from Assam’s territory.
Festering since October 9, the situation along the 164.6-km Assam-Mizoram border took an ugly turn when around 20 shops and houses were burnt and over 50 people sustained injuries in the attacks and counter-attacks by people on either side on October 17.
Union Home Minister Amit Shah also spoke to Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal and Mizoram Chief Minister Zoramthanga several times to normalise the situation.