Rowta, Assam: A 60-hour bandh started in Assam today, predominantly in the Bodo tribe districts of Kokrajhar, Udalguri, Chirang and Baksa.
On National Highway 52, that passes through the district of Udalguri, the atmosphere was almost festive, the mood though totally serious.
As the All Bodo Students Union kicked off the 60-hour bandh call with a day-long blockade on this highway, the demand for a separate state of Bodoland, to be carved out of the Bodo tribe dominated districts of Assam, resonated loud and clear.
The protests have been growing louder over the past week after the Centre announced statehood for Telangana.
Road traffic in the four districts remained totally shut, and all shops and govt offices in the area, too, were closed.
However, trains in and out of the northeast, that use the Kokrajhar station, remain unaffected for now.
Pramod Boro, President of All Bodo Students Union, who led today's agitation, told NDTV, "We hope that the Centre will listen to us. This is a very old agitation. Our demands have to be met."
In the last few days, there has been a rail roko, a rally at Kokrajhar and now this road blockade at Udalguri. There are also plans to enforce a 1000-hour economic blockade in the region, starting next week.
The Bodoland agitation, played out in Parliament too today, as MPs from the area staged a demonstration outside Parliament house.
Both the Centre and the Tarun Gogoi-led state govt, however, have chosen to downplay the protests with the chief minister saying there is no question of any further division of Assam.
But all this may change, if protests continue for longer, something that now seems very likely.