| ATTSA members during the blockade at Mariani on Friday. Picture by UB Photos |
Jorhat, March 9: The Assam Tea Tribes Students’ Association (ATTSA) extended its indefinite economic blockade of Nagaland this morning by blocking the Mariani-Mokokchung road.
The route is a lifeline for Nagaland as it is used to carry essential commodities from Mariani in Assam’s Jorhat district to Mokokchung, Tuensang and Zunebhoto districts in Nagaland.
The blockade, which has the support of the Mariani unit of the All Assam Students’ Union (AASU), is likely to spread to neighbouring Sivasagar district tomorrow with the ATTSA threatening to extend the blockade to Amguri-Mokokchung road.
The ATTSA had imposed the blockade on two dirt roads on Tuesday after some people, allegedly from Nagaland, assaulted a few workers of Naginijan tea estate, about 15km from Mariani town, on Sunday.
The association blocked the kutcha road from Mogroi (near Naginijan in Assam along the state’s border with Nagaland) to Chairman Basti (in Nagaland along the border) and the adjacent kutcha road from Sotai (part of Naginijan) to Akumen Basti (in Nagaland along the border), which are used by people from Nagaland to come down to the tea estate area for marketing.
ATTSA assistant secretary Dhiraj Gowala said the students’ association had to impose the blockade on small and main routes as their demand to identify, arrest and book the culprits, allegedly from Nagaland, fell on deaf ears. He said neither Mokokchung nor Jorhat administration had paid heed to their demand.
He alleged that a group of armed goons from Nagaland had come to Naginijan garden, bordering Saringyim village in Longchem area of Mokokchung district, on Sunday night. They fired several rounds in the air, asked some labourers to kneel down and assaulted three of them.
He said the attack followed regular threats by some residents of Nagaland not to pluck tea leaves in the garden area located along the border as it belonged to Nagaland.
Gowala alleged that Dispur had failed to protect the lives and property of the people living on the border against regular threats by Naga settlers across the boundary.
Dilip Sahu, adviser of AASU’s Mariani unit, said the students’ body had extended its support to the blockade as threats and attacks on Assamese people living along the border were on the rise with the government completely failing to ensure their safety and security.
Temsu Wathi Ao, coordinator, Border Peace Coordination Committee (Assam-Nagaland), who is also the district informatics officer (National Informatics Centre), Mokokchung, said efforts were on to resolve the problem. He said the two district administrations were in touch over the matter.
Terming the incident as “unfortunate”, he said both Jorhat and Mokokchung deputy commissioners had visited the border area last week and participated in a meeting to maintain peace and harmony.
Ao said members of the committee, comprising people from both the states, were also trying to resolve the impasse by holding meetings with members of Saringyim village council. They will also talk to ATTSA leaders.