Guwahati/Agartala: With the situation improving in Assam and other northeastern states which witnessed violent agitations last week over the contentious Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA), 2019, all the 10 airports in the region were operational on Sunday, officials said.
The Airport Authority of India’s (AAI) Regional Executive Director, Sanjeev Jindal, told IANS: “We are working in all the airports of the northeastern region on Sunday and some were also open for passengers overnight on Saturday. Even if there is no flight, we are allowing the passengers to use guesthouses, lounges, water, heating and are trying to provide food as well.”
He said that till Saturday, the Dibrugarh Airport in Assam was not operational due to the unavailability of adequate private and public transport services. But on Sunday, it functioned normally and all the nine scheduled flights were being operated.
Jindal said that other airports in Guwahati, Silchar, Jorhat, Teju, Tezpur (all in Assam), Agartala (Tripura), Imphal (Manipur), Dimapur (Nagaland) and Lengpui (Mizoram) were also operating normally.
“Challenges are there for men and material but all stakeholders are working hard in close coordination and serving the people for their safe movement in and out of the northeastern region,” Jindal said.
However, the Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR), which operates in the entire northeastern region and in some parts of Bihar and West Bengal, has cancelled 71 trains on Sunday due to security and other reasons.
An NFR official told IANS that due to security and technical reasons besides inadequate road transport services they were not operating the 71 trains.
“Kamakhya-Ranchi Express and Kishanganj-Ajmer Gareeb Nawaz Express would also remain cancelled on December 17. Because of law and order problem between New Farakka and Azimganj section of the Eastern Railway in West Bengal, six trains had to be cancelled on Sunday and the New Alipurduar-Sealdah Tista Torsa Express was short-terminated at Raninagar Jalpiguri,” the official said.
Chief Public Relations Officer Subhanan Chanda said that the NFR had run four special trains between Guwahati, Dibrugarh, Dimapur and other places of northeast and carried about 2,400 stranded passengers to their destinations since December 12.
“Around 800 passengers, who have been stranded in Guwahati, were being ferried to their destinations since Saturday night,” Chanda added.
The agitations against the CAA have also affected the operations of Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) and Oil India Ltd (OIL) refineries and LPG (liquefied petroleum gas) production units in Assam and the other states causing shortage of transport fuel and cooking gas.
“The availability of petrol, diesel and LPG would be normal in a day or two. Efforts are on to transport these petroleum products to all the northeastern states,” an IOC official said in Agartala.
The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, which has now become an Act after being passed by both the Houses of Parliament will provide Indian nationality to Hindus, Christians, Sikhs, Parsis, Jains and Buddhists fleeing persecution in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh.
The issue has caused widespread unprecedented violent protests in the northeast, especially in the states of Assam, Tripura and Meghalaya, with the agitating demonstrators demanding the withdrawal of the CAA claiming that the fresh legislation would jeopardize the demographic situations and life, culture and socio-economic positions to the 45.58 million populations of region.
BY SUJIT CHAKRABORTY