Alleging that medical supplies, including Covid-19 test kits, were being blocked from entering the state from neighbouring Assam due to the imposition of a “blockade” there, Mizoram Health Minister Dr R Lalthangliana on Monday wrote to the Centre urging it to intervene for lifting the purported restriction.
Lalthangliana levelled a similar allegation on Sunday, while the authorities in Assam rejected the claim contending that no blockade had been imposed.
A police officer in Vairengte, the gateway to Mizoram along National Highway-306, told PTI that no vehicle has entered the state from Assam since July 26 when a border clash between police forces of the two North-eastern neighbours left seven people dead and 50 others injured.
NH-306 connects Mizoram to the rest of the country and most supplies come to the state via the highway.
“I have come to learn with dismay that essential medical supplies including Covid-19 test kits are blocked from entering our state due to the imposition of blockade in the Barak Valley region.
“This has severely affected the availability of medicines required by patients who are now in critical conditions and by those severely affected with Covid-19,” Lalthangliana said in a letter to Union Home Minister Amit Shah and Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya.
Claiming that even oxygen cylinders, oxygen plant materials, and Covid-19 test kits have not been allowed to enter Mizoram, he said that the state is currently reeling under its worst Covid-19 surge and it could face an enormous health crisis if medical supplies are blocked for long.
He alleged that all the transporters in Guwahati, who have been operating in Mizoram, were instructed to stop transporting goods to the state under the pretext of security concerns following the border clash that took place on July 26.
“This has resulted in a complete halt of any type of goods coming to the state, including basic medicines, life-saving medicines and Covid-19 medicines as well,” the Mizoram health minister said.
Assamese organisations in Barak Valley, that had soon after the July 26 clash announced an economic blockade of Mizoram have since lifted it but truckers afraid of possible violence have opted to either park their vehicles near the border in Cachar district’s Dholai or to circumvent the troubled boundary by taking a longer route through Tripura.
Three districts – Hailakandi, Karimganj and Cachar – comprise the Barak Valley region.
The Mizoram home department on Sunday had shot off a letter to the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) stating that no vehicles entered from Assam till date and many vehicles carrying essential commodities and medical consignment are stranded at Lailapur-Dholai area.
In the letter, newly appointed Home Secretary Vanlalngaisaka claimed that barricades were erected by civilians under the supervision of police personnel on a road in Assam’s Karimganj district that links Mizoram’s Mamit district.
Tension along the border with Mizoram in Cachar and Hailakandi districts of Assam have been escalating since October 2020 with frequent incidents of burning of houses and encroachment of land.
The two states that share a 164.6-km border states have differing interpretations of their territorial border. While Mizoram believes that its border lies along an ‘inner line’ drawn up in 1875 to protect tribals from outside influence, Assam goes by a district demarcation done in the 1930s.