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Truckers avoid Assam-bound cargoes

Our Bureau

Kolkata , Nov. 20

THE truck operators here are mulling refusal of Assam-bound cargo in view of the tense situation in the State.

"We did not refuse Assam-bound consignments in the past two-three days, but we did not give any guarantee either as to when these will arrive," said the spokesman of a leading transport company having strong business links in the North-East.

"If the present situation continues, we will have no other option but to stop accepting cargo for the N-E region," the spokesman said. However, many transport operators had already started accepting cargo only up to Siliguri, he said.

An estimated 3,000 trucks move into Assam every day via West Bengal's border with Assam and a majority of them have Hindi-speaking drivers and cleaners. These Hindi-speaking drivers and cleaners, hailing not only from Bihar, but also from others States like Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Haryana, Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh, are reluctant to take their vehicles into the N-E region in view of the situation prevailing there.

Although the present movement in Assam is professedly targeted against the Biharis, the supporters of the movement, it is feared, may not spare the Hindi-speaking people from other States also.

In fact, a large number of trucks carrying goods for Assam and the other N-E States are already stranded on the National Highway 31 at various places in Jalpaiguri and Cooch Behar districts of West Bengal, adjoining Assam.

The Jalpaiguri district shares 43 km of border with Assam and Cooch Behar 84 km. This is the only land route to enter Assam and the other N-E States.

There is another problem too. The consignments that have already arrived in Guwahati cannot be sent for onward movement to other places in view of the present situation. Guwahati is the gateway to the other N-E States and a large number of trucks carrying essentials for the other States pass through Assam every day. All these have come to a halt.

Meanwhile, the police in both the districts in West Bengal have stepped up vigil to ensure that there is no backlash of what has happened in Assam. Inquiries reveal that the State police, acting in tandem with the Assam police, have decided to provide escorts to trucks to and from Assam for their safe passage.

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