Blockade of Assam-Mizoram National Highway lifted
Silchar: National Highway 306, the lifeline of Mizoram, shut for two days after the All Barak Youth Students` Association (ABYSA) declared an indefinite blockaded to protest harassment of non-Mizos in Mizoram, has been reopened for traffic, officials here said.
The blockade was lifted late Thursday after officials of the Assam government assured the protestors that their demands would be taken up with the Mizoram government for immediate resolution.
NH 306 connects Silchar in southern Assam with Mizoram, and is the only road link between the mountainous state and the rest of India.
The ABYSA, in association with some local non-political parties, had imposed the blockade on Wednesday and put forward four demands: the end of harassment of non-Mizos in Mizoram, not using the excuse of Inner-Line Permit to make things hard for those from outside Mizoram seeking to work in the state, resolution of the border dispute between Assam and Mizoram, and greater security to non-Mizos in Mizoram.
Hundreds of goods-laden and passenger vehicles had been stranded since Wednesday on either side of the blocked part of the highway, at Lailapur in southern Assam, near the Assam-Mizoram border.
"Cachar (in southern Assam) district administration officials, following a marathon meeting till late Thursday night, have assured us that the issues would be taken up with the Mizoram government for immediate solution. We have suspended our protest till October 05," ABYSA chief convener Baharul Islam Barbhuiya told reporters in Silchar on Friday.
Earlier, officials from Kolasib district (in northern Mizoram) and police held a marathon but inconclusive meeting till late Wednesday with the protestors.
According to Barbhuiya, non-Mizo workers in Mizoram have been harassed "in the name of Inner-Line Permit (ILP)".
He alleged that the persecution was carried out by the Young Mizo Association (YMA) and some Mizoram-based NGOs.
"As a result, thousands of non-Mizo workers have fled Mizoram in the past few weeks," he said.
The ILP, or the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation, has been in force in areas comprising present-day Mizoram, Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh in India`s northeast since 1873. Any non-domicile person has to obtain the ILP before entering these states.
Seeking resolution of the border dispute between Assam and Mizoram, Barbhuiya said the Mizoram government earlier allowed non-Mizos of neighbouring states to work in the tribal-dominated state on the basis of work permits, which were issued for a period of 15 days and were renewable.
Mizoram shares a 123-km border with Assam, a 66-km one with Tripura and a 96-km border with Manipur. The Mizoram government earlier this year formed an official committee to resolve its boundary dispute with Assam.
"Recently, members of YMA and other organisations told non-Mizo people that their work permits were not valid for entry into Mizoram. The YMA cadres have started harassing non-Mizo workers while the Mizoram government is silent," Barbhuiya said.
The ABYSA and its supporting organisations have been urging Mizoram authorities to allow workers from outside to work without harassment.
Ethnic tension in southern Assam and adjoining Mizoram deepened this month following the destruction of a border pillar by unidentified miscreants.
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