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Blockade issue on NH, Nagaland, Manipur chief secretaries summoned
NEW DELHI/ IMPHAL, JUN 15 (IANS):
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Published on 16 Jun. 2010 12:20 AM IST
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Terming the economic blockade by Naga activists against Manipur “a matter of serious concern”, the central government Tuesday called chief secretaries of the two states for an “emergency meeting” here Wednesday to discuss steps to end it.
Union Home Secretary G.K. Pillai will meet the top bureaucrats of Manipur and Nagaland in Delhi and discuss steps to be taken to keep open the National Highway-39, the economic lifeline of Manipur that has been blocked by Naga activists since April 11, a home ministry official said.
“The current blockade on the NH-39 is a matter of serious concern to the central government. Home Minister P. Chidambaram has already spoken to the chief ministers of Nagaland and Manipur to take necessary steps to have the blockade withdrawn,” the official said.
“Pillai has invited the chief secretaries of Nagaland and Manipur for an emergency meeting here tomorrow to discuss the steps to be taken by the two state governments to keep the highway open,” he said
The home ministry summons to the officials comes after the apex tribal students’ group of Nagaland announced that it would suspend a more than two-month-old blockade of roads leading to Manipur by Tuesday evening.
Several Naga tribal groups have been blocking the main highway into Manipur since April 11 to protest against the state government’s decision banning separatist leader, Thuingaleng Muivah, from visiting his birthplace.
The blockade of main roads has led to severe shortages of food and medical supplies and soaring prices. Landlocked Manipur depends on supplies from outside the region with trucks from the rest of India carrying essentials passing through Nagaland.
On Monday, Pillai said paramilitary troopers from the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) and the Border Security Force (BSF) would escort trucks carrying food and medicines from Assam to Manipur passing through Nagaland.
The home ministry said it has sent two consignments of life saving drugs to Imphal May 18 and an additional consignment of life saving drugs weighing four tonnes were airlifted the same day.
“Between May 17 and May 23, a total of 492.52 quintals of rice was airlifted from Guwahati by AN 32 aircraft of the Indian Air Force.
More than 1,000 trucks and tankers with essential commodities have reached Manipur through national highway 150 with the assistance of the Mizoram government, the home ministry said.
Showdown averted
A major showdown between security forces and tribal Naga protesters was averted with the apex tribal students’ group of Nagaland announcing that it would suspend a more than two-month blockade of roads leading to Manipur by Tuesday evening.
“We are temporarily suspending the economic blockade from 6 p.m. Tuesday following personal requests by the prime minister and the home minister after we met them last evening (Monday) in New Delhi,” Naga Students’ Federation (NSF) president Mutsiikhoyo Yhobu told IANS.
Several Naga tribal groups have blocked the main highway into Manipur state since April 11 to protest against a government decision preventing separatist leader, Thuingaleng Muivah, from visiting his birthplace. The two-month blockade of main roads has led to severe shortages of food and medical supplies and soaring prices.
Landlocked Manipur depends on supplies from outside the region with trucks from the rest of India carrying essentials passing through Nagaland.
“In view of the decision by the NSF to suspend their agitation, we have decided not to use force to break the deadlock for the time being, but would provide paramilitary escorts to truckers carrying essentials into Manipur to avoid any untoward incidents,” a senior Manipur police official said, requesting anonymity.
“We may resume our agitation once again if the Manipur government fails to address our primary demands,” the NSF leader said. The demands include better facilities for the nearly 500,000 Naga settlers in Manipur, besides allowing Muivah, the general secretary of the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN), to visit his ancestral home in Manipur. The Manipur government had banned 75-year-old Muivah’s trip to his home village, saying it could stoke unrest.
On May 6, six tribal Naga protestors were killed and up to 70 injured in clashes with police as Muivah tried to defy a ban on him returning to his village.
“Even if the NSF had decided to withdraw the blockade, we still believe there is fair amount of threat perception to the truckers from Naga tribal people. So we request the central government to provide security escorts,” N. Biren Singh, Manipur government spokesperson told IANS.
ANSAM blockade
Declaring its stance on the ongoing economic blockade, the All Naga Students’ Association, Manipur (ANSAM) today said that blockade would continue until Manipur government comes to understand the issue rationally.

 
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