Barely a month after it was launched, the historic broad-gauge daily passenger train service into Arunachal Pradesh has been suspended indefinitely due to law and order problems.
“The train service between Harmuti in Assam’s Lakhimpur district and Naharlagun in Arunachal Pradesh — a 21 km route — has been suspended since Friday due to law and order problems in Arunachal. We will continue the service only after the Arunachal government tells us conditions are conducive to resume,” a spokesperson for the North-East Frontier Railways (NFR) said. The spokesperson added the service between Dekargaon (near Tezpur in Assam) and Harmuti would continue as usual.
Students’ unions in Arunachal have been protesting against the train service, saying there is no proper mechanism to check influx of outsiders, in spite of the state enforcing the Inner Line Permit (ILP) system. Protesters recently formed a human chain to stop passengers arriving on the train from leaving Naharlagun station, and held meetings with the state asking for a suspension of train services.
One students’ union also put up a notice at Naharlagun station saying, “All the non-APSTs (Arunachal Pradesh Scheduled Tribes) are strictly prohibited to enter Arunachal Pradesh without ILP and they are directed to go back to their native place.”
Arunachal chief secretary Ramesh Negi said, “The service has not been suspended with our approval, nor was it started with our approval.”