Nov 29, 2011

Nagalim: Economic Blockade In Manipur Lifted

The 121-day economic blockade in Manipur is temporarily and conditionally lifted by the UNC.

Below is an article published by the Morung Express

The indefinite economic blockade in Manipur that entered its 121st day Monday has been temporarily withdrawn, said a leader of the United Naga Council (UNC) spearheading the agitation. “We have decided to temporarily lift the blockade on the two national highways from 6 am Tuesday,” UNC president Loli Adani told a public meeting at the Naga-dominated Tamenglong district of Manipur.

According to the UNC, it had decided to lift the economic blockade on three conditions viz, the assurance from Union Home Minister P Chidambaram to the Naga body on the Sadar Hills issue; the various appeals from the church and civil organisations to lift the blockade; and also taking into account the suffering of the people because of the impact of economic blockade.

Meanwhile, United Naga Council Information Secretary S Milan informed Newmai News Network that Union Home Minister P Chidambaram who met the UNC delegation in New Delhi on November 22 had assured verbally that the government of Manipur would not be allowed to take any unilateral decision on the Sadar Hills issue. This verbal assurance was followed by a written assurance from the Ministry of Home Affairs that came to the UNC on November 24. 

S Milan however said the ongoing one hour public curfew that has been ongoing in Naga areas of Manipur from 12 noon will continue until further notice. The UNC leader then asked all the Naga tribe organisations and the Naga public to remain alert to face any eventuality in case the government of Manipur takes any unilateral decision on the Sadar Hills issue.

The decision to lift the blockade comes ahead of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s daylong visit to Manipur Dec 3 where he is scheduled to launch and inaugurate several development projects. The prime minister is also expected to address a public meeting.

The UNC’s decision is seen as an olive branch with the Naga leadership hoping to get an audience with the prime minister to air their grievances.

To recall, the Sadar Hills District Demand Committee (SHDDC) had imposed an indefinite economic blockade along the national highways leading to Manipur from August 1. The SHDDC has been demanding a full fledged district status for Sadar Hills. To this the Nagas under the aegis of the United Naga Council protested saying no ‘Naga areas’ be bifurcated to create the Sadar Hills district. The Kuki dominated Sadar Hills is situated in the Naga dominated Senapati district in Manipur. 
The SHDDC lifted the agitation from November 1 after having signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the government of Manipur on October 31 agreeing that the Sadar Hills be granted district status by November itself. With only two days to lapse on the MoU, the SHDDC met the Chief Minister in Imphal today over the signing of the memorandum of understanding. SHDDC Chief Ngamkhohao Haokip informed NNN that they would meet the government representative again after the Prime Minister’s visit to Manipur on November 3. 

It may be mentioned that over 60 vehicles including private and public had been burnt down by both the SHDDC and UNC volunteers during the agitation. The state has been facing price rise and scarcity of petroleum products due to the blockade.