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100-hour bandh in Assam

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Security has been tightened throughout Bodoland and patrolling intensified in vulnerable areas

Since midnight of February 28, people of Janata Action Committee of Bodoland movement in Assam, India, have called a 100-hour (four day) strike.

The information was relayed to the Bhutanese police by their counterparts in Jaigaon.

All vehicular movements from Phuentsholing via India highway have been closed, while the highway to west Bengal remains open.

Since the strike was announced on the night of February 27, police said they did not see any private cars or taxi approaching to enquire like in the past.

A few cars that reached Phuentsholing late on February 27 night informed of the strike to be called the next day.

“They decided to come to Phuentsholing from Samdrupjongkhar that same day even if it meant reaching late night,” police officials at the gate said. “Who’d want to be stranded along the bordering Indian states during a bandh (strike).”

Indian media reports said People’s Joint Action Committee for Bodoland movement called for the bandh after sporadic incidents of violence were reported in Bodoland Territorial Administered Districts (BTAD) on February 22.

The strike was called to demand talks with National Democratic Front of Bodoland at the political level with the Union Home Minister and also to press for a separate Bodoland.

Security has been tightened throughout BTAD with patrolling intensified in vulnerable areas.

Meanwhile, Bhutanese travelling to Gelephu and Samdrupjongkhar said they were using national highways.

Lhendup Pelzom, 52, who had planned to go to Gelephu for hot spring dip yesterday via India decided to take the winding interior roads.

“If I wait, my daughter who is unwell, will get more ill,” she said. “Anyway our roads are more safe.”

Another traveller Sonam said had to travel the lateral route to make for a meeting in Trashigang on Saturday.

“The road will be covered in ice I know, but I have no choice,” he said.

Meanwhile, in Samdrupjongkhar, Bhutanese travelling to bordering districts of Phuentsholing, Gelephu, Nganglam and Daifam drove on the night of February 28 before midnight after learning of the four-day strike.

There were no vehicles stranded in Samdrupjongkhar as of yesterday evening.

The border gate remains sealed until the end of the four-day strike that ends on the midnight of March 4.

By Yangchen C Rinzin, Phuentsholing

Additional reporting,  Nirmala Pokhrel

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