Six Northeastern states sealed the interstate borders and barred the general entry from Assam, after reports of 16 positive COVID-19 cases in Assam.
Assam shares 2,743 km inter-state boundaries with Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Manipur, Mizoram, Tripura, Meghalaya and West Bengal. Of the 20 positive coronavirus cases in four of the seven Northeastern states, 18 took part in the Tablighi Jamaat congregation in Delhi while a Manipuri girl and a Mizoram man had tested positive last month after they returned from the UK and the Netherlands, respectively.
According to Assam Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, swab samples of 16 people, residents of Assam and all attendees of the Tablighi event held last month have tested positive for coronavirus.
“Test reports of several hundred Tablighi Jamaat attendees are awaited,” Sarma said in Guwahati.
Tripura Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb, who holds both the Health and Home Departments, while holding a meeting to review the preparedness to deal with the COVID-19 issues, strongly asked the officials to maintain a highest vigil along the inter-state borders with Assam and Mizoram
“Except the goods laden trucks and freight trains, nothing should be allowed to enter Tripura from the neighbouring states and across the Bangladesh borders,” Deb told the media.
“We must be extra careful against the spread of the novel coronavirus as positive cases were found in Assam, Mizoram and Bangladesh. Tripura is so far free from the positive cases,” Deb stated.
In Shillong, Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad K. Sangma said that the inter-district movements have been stopped by the union Home Ministry, there was no question of allowing any movement within the state and from other states.
“The state government has asked district officials in the border areas to ensure that all the norms to fight against COVID-19 are strictly followed. Only in case of extreme medical emergency, the authorities are not allowing inter-state movement to take place,” Sangma said.
However, except travelling by train, people from Guwahati and other parts of Assam have to pass through Meghalaya’s Shillong, Jowai and Khliehriat to go to southern Assam, comprising five districts.
In Kohima, the Nagaland government has sealed the state’s borders with Assam along Wokha district (western Nagaland) with immediate effect, in the wake of increasing positive COVID-19 cases in Assam.
Deputy commissioner of Wokha district said that in the interest of public health and in consideration with the reports of positive cases in Assam and to contain the spread of Coronavirus in the border district, the order was made under the Epidemic diseases Act, 1897.
“The DC’s notification directed the sealing of all inter-state entry points of Assam except for movement of security forces and emergency medical services. It also ordered the supply of all essential commodities to be routed through Dimapur district. Any violators would be booked under under Section 188 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC),” an official said in Kohima referring the DC’s order.
In Mizoram, the state government has further tightened the security along its inter-state borders with Assam, Manipur and Tripura following the spike in coronavirus positive cases in neighbouring states. Mizoram Deputy Inspector General (Northern Range) Lalbiakthanga Khiangte said that security has been further tightened along the state borders with neighbouring states to check movement of people across the border.
“All the check posts along the inter-state borders, especially, in Vairengte and Bairabi on the Mizoram-Assam border and Mamit district along the state border with Tripura have been further alerted,” the police official said. He also said that additional security forces have also been deployed along the inter-state borders.
In Itanagar, Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Pema Khandu during a review meeting on Thursday asked the police department to keep vigil of the porous border with Assam besides strict monitoring of all 22 official entry gates to prevent any suspicious access.
From other parts of the country, Assam is the gateway for the six other Northeastern states sharing 2,616 km borders with Nagaland (512.1 km), Arunachal Pradesh (804.1 km), Manipur (204.1 km), Mizoram (164.6 km), Tripura (46.3 km) and Meghalaya (884.9 km). Three northeastern states — Nagaland, Meghalaya and Tripura — are yet to report any positive coronavirus case.