Aizawl: Surface communication in landlocked Mizoram was cut off for the second day on Thursday as protesters continued to block the national highway against the alleged harassment of non-Mizos in the state.
National Highway 306, connecting Silchar in southern Assam with Mizoram and the only road link between the mountainous state and the rest of India, has been blocked since Wednesday by the All Barak Youth Students` Association (ABYSA) in association with some local non-political parties, clubs and social organisations.
Hundreds of goods laden and passenger vehicles have been stranded on either side of the blockade at Lailapur near the Assam-Mizoram border.
"Officials from Kolasib district (in northern Mizoram) and police held a marathon but inconclusive meeting till late Wednesday with the agitators," an official from Cachar in southern Assam told reporters.
According to ABYSA chief convener Baharul Islam 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 and some Mizoram-based NGOs.
"As a result, thousands of non-Mizo workers have fled from Mizoram during the past few weeks," he told reporters.
The ILP, or the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation, has been in force in Mizoram, Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh in India`s northeast since 1873.
Any non-domicile person has to obtain ILP before entering these states.
Demanding a resolution to 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.
The work permits were issued for a period of 15 days and were renewable.
"Recently, members of YMA and other organisations told non-Mizo people that such work permits were not a valid document for them to enter any part of Mizoram and work there. The YMA cadres have started harassing non-Mizo workers while the government is silent," Barbhuiya said.
The ABYSA and its supporting organisations have urged Mizo authorities to allow workers from outside to work and end the harassment of non-Mizos.
The NGOs have also threatened to intensify the economic blockade against Mizoram if the authorities don`t take action against the harassment.
Ethnic tension in southern Assam and adjoining Mizoram deepened this month following destruction of a border pillar by unidentified miscreants.
Several local groups and NGOs of Cachar district, including ABYSA, have been rallying for the past few days to condemn the incident. They want Assam and Mizoram to resolve their border dispute at the earliest.
Mizoram shares a 123-km border with Assam, 66 km with Tripura and 96 km with Manipur.
The Mizoram government earlier this year formed an official committee to resolve its boundary dispute with Assam.