| Ulfa’s pro-talks group leader Pranjit Saikia (centre) with protesters at Borgang on Saturday. Picture by Pranab Kumar Das |
Tezpur, Feb. 1: The economic blockade launched by the residents of Borgang and Chariduar in Assam against Arunachal Pradesh to protest the killings in Behali of Sonitpur district entered the second day today.
The blockade was staged to protest against the alleged firing by armed men from Arunachal Pradesh on a group of people from Assam on Wednesday, killing 10 persons and injuring several others.
Sources said the police fired teargas shells and three rounds of blanks at Chariduar, 30km from Tezpur, last night to disperse the protesters and allow passage of passenger vehicles on National Highway 15 (earlier 52) at Borgang.
The blockade has disrupted supplies to Itanagar, Naharlagun, East Siang, West Siang, Along and Pasighat in the neighbouring state.
Sources said Itanagar is already facing a fuel crunch. Essential commodities such as food, petrol and diesel and other items are supplied from Tezpur, Nagaon and Lakhimpur districts of Assam to Arunachal.
In an apparent attempt to reach out to the protesters, Arunachal Pradesh today announced ex gratia of Rs 3 lakh each to those killed and Rs 50,000 each to the critically injured in the Tarasso (Behali in Assam) incident of January 29. Arunachal chief minister Nabam Tuki convened a high-level meeting in Itanagar here this morning and ordered that the grant be placed at the disposal of the Papum Pare deputy commissioner for disbursement. The meeting was attended by the chief secretary, director-general of police and the state’s advocate-general. Papum Pare borders Assam’s Sonitpur district.
Tuki also appealed to Union home minister Sushil Kumar Shinde to depute a team of senior officers of MHA for an on-the-spot inspection with the district administrations of Assam and Arunachal. He also requested the ministry to entrust the investigation to an independent agency while appealing to the people of both the states.
Arunachal Pradesh governor Nirbhay Sharma, while inaugurating the Cross Country Flying Club at Sivasagar in Assam today, said the blockade was hurting the common people of both the states.
Advising the people to guard against rumours, the governor said nobody would gain from these violent activities.
Denying any lathicharge on the protesters, Sonitpur SP Sanjukta Parasor said those participating in the economic blockade had demolished vehicles from Arunachal Pradesh last night.
Ulfa’s pro-talks group leader Pranjit Saikia sat with the protesters at Borgang to express their solidarity with the people of Behali.
Khiren Rijiju, former MP of Arunachal West and BJP national executive, condemned the incident. Blaming both the state governments, he sought the Centre’s intervention to resolve the issue.
Rijiju also said that if the economic blockade continued, it would affect Arunach Pradesh.
Arunachal Agrasan Patirudh Samitee, which had launched the blockade, detained more than 40 trucks at Borgang Sanggola, 110km from Tezpur and 290km from Guwahati. The trucks were shifted to a nearby field to clear the road for other vehicles.
The blockade that had spread to Gohpur, around 15km from Behali, was lifted after three hours this evening.
Representatives from the Krishti Kendras of Itanagar and Naharlagun and namghars of Nirjuli and Naharlagun, on behalf of the Assamese community living in Arunachal Pradesh, appealed to various organisations based in Assam to lift the economic blockade on humanitarian grounds and to resolve the issue amicably.
The appeal came soon after their meeting Nabam Tuki in Itanagar today.