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ATTSA lifts 3-day lifeline blockade

- Assam ministers’ promise to address union demand ends Nagaland’s supply-route dilemma

Jorhat, May 26: The All Assam Tea Tribes Students Association called off its three-day-old Jorhat-Mokokchung road blockade today after a ministerial delegation from Dispur assured them that steps would be initiated to meet its demand.

The decision, taken late this evening, came as a relief to the Nagaland government, which was otherwise forced to feed its four commodity-strapped districts — Mokokchung, Lonling, Tuengsang and Zunheboto— through the longer Dimapur via Kohima route.

The association had been blocking the road, which is the lifeline of the four Nagaland districts since Friday — the day the two labourers of Naginijan tea estate were released after being allegedly “abducted” by Nagaland police and villagers from the state’s Mokokchung district — demanding arrest of the culprits.

The Nagaland government had already ordered the business communities in the four affected districts to make arrangements to ferry essential commodities from Dimapur market via Kohima instead of the shorter Jorhat-Mokokchung road, which is otherwise used to supply essential commodities from the Jorhat wholesale market.

Mokokchung deputy commissioner Morohu Chotso had earlier told The Telegraph over phone that since all four districts were facing shortage, he had directed Mokokchung Chamber of Commerce and Industries to ferry essential commodities from the Dimapur market via Kohima.

“The distance between Mokokchung and Dimapur via Kohima would be much more than between Jorhat and Mokokchung but we have no option left,” he said, adding that it was very unfortunate that a few people in Assam had resorted to a road blockade despite the Nagaland administration immediately handing over the two persons taken into custody by villagers as a good gesture.

“Two vehicles belonging to Nagas were damaged and several innocent people travelling along the Mokokchung-Mariani road were beaten up without reason. Our people have not shown any aggression, as we want peace,” Chotso said.

He said the Jorhat district administration had assured them that the two vehicles, which are at Mariani police station, would be returned.

The breakthrough came after an Assam government delegation led by labour minister Prithibi Majhi, border area development minister Siddique Ahmed and former central minister Bijoy Krishna Handique visited Mariani today and requested ATTSA activists to call off the blockade, assuring them that steps would be initiated to meet their demands.

The delegation also assured them that it would try to arrange a meeting between the representatives of the association and chief minister Tarun Gogoi to discuss the border issue.

ATTSA assistant general secretary Dhiraj Gowala told The Telegraph that both ministers had promised to meet the association’s demands and would hold a discussion with chief minister Tarun Gogoi in this regard. “The government has already made the move to set up a border outpost at Naginijan,” he said.

The delegation also visited Naginijan and held a discussion with the labourers regarding the border dispute, and in an apparent bid to woo the people of the area, it promised to construct a community centre, a library and a road for development of the area.

Parliamentary affairs minister Nilamoni Sen Deka had visited Mariani yesterday.

A delegation from Jorhat district, led by deputy commission R.C. Jain, is slated to visit Charing-Nakpa village in Mokokchung district of Nagaland tomorrow to hold discussions with the village council in a bid to instil peace along the inter-state border.

Youth dead

Problems for Mariani police compounded on Sunday after people from Khorikotia Dhodorali gheraoed the police station protesting the death of a youth, Polash Baruah, also known as Bimol, who was arrested on May 18.

The protesters later squatted on the road in front of the police station with the body of the youth, who was arrested along with five others on charges of betting on an IPL match.

Mariani police are already under tremendous pressure following the alleged assault on local MLA Rupjyoti Kurmi by a CRPF jawan in front of the police station on Friday. The officer in-charge of the police station, M. Ali, has been transferred to the police reserve.


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