Medical supplies to Indian state disrupted after border clashes

Mizoram Health Minister R. Lalthangliana said COVID-19 test kits and medicines were being blocked in Assam

  
A shipment of vital medical supplies from the United Kingdom arrives in New Delhi, India April 27, 2021 in this still image taken from a video. ANI/REUTERS TV via REUTERS

A shipment of vital medical supplies from the United Kingdom arrives in New Delhi, India April 27, 2021 in this still image taken from a video. ANI/REUTERS TV via REUTERS

NEW DELHI - Movement of essential medical supplies into a small northeastern Indian state reeling under a wave of COVID-19 infections has been disrupted days after deadly clashes on its border with neighbouring Assam state, officials said on Monday.

At least seven people, including six police officers, were killed and more than 70 hurt after clashes between policemen from Mizoram and Assam states over a territorial dispute last week. 

Mizoram government officials and representatives of a trade association said that the entry of medical supplies, including testing kits, Remdesivir and other drugs used to treat COVID-19 patients, from Assam had since been severely disrupted.

Assam is the region's largest state and contains the main logistics hubs that service several other northeastern states, including Mizoram.

"During this pandemic, medicines for COVID-19 are the most essential item," Mizoram's Home Secretary Vanlalngaihsaka, who uses only one name, told Reuters by telephone.

A landlocked mountainous state of around 1.1 million people, Mizoram recorded its highest ever daily spike in COVID-19 cases late last month with 1,369 infections.

In a Facebook post late on Sunday, Mizoram Health Minister R. Lalthangliana said COVID-19 test kits and medicines were being blocked in Assam, a charge that the neighbouring state's government has denied.

"We have only issued a travel advisory asking people from Assam to be on their guard while travelling to Mizoram in view of the killing of six of our policemen," Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma told Reuters.

"But there is no economic blockade from our side."

In Mizoram's capital Aizwal, L.H. Sailo from the Mizoram Chemists and Druggists Association said medicines were running low, with no supplies coming in by road from Assam.

"Nothing is coming right now," he said. "Are we not citizens of his country Do we not have the right to life"

(Reporting by Devjyot Ghoshal in NEW DELHI and Zarir Hussain in GUWHATI; Additional reporting by Chanchinmawia in CHAMPHAI; Editing by Giles Elgood) ((Devjyot.Ghoshal@thomsonreuters.com; +91-11-49548102;))


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