Nagas to lift Manipur blockade from Sunday midnight

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Imphal, March 19 (IANS) The economic blockade of Manipur imposed by the United Naga Council (UNC) will be lifted from Sunday midnight, announced a UNC office-bearer here.

The decision was taken following an agreement reached during a tripartite talk on Sunday involving two UNC constituents — All Naga Students’ Association Manipur (ANSAM) and Naga Women Union (NWU) — and representatives of the central and Manipur governments, UNC General Secretary S. Milan said.

The meeting was held at Senapati district headquarters, where the head office of the UNC is located. Holding talks in Senapati was one of the conditions of the Nagas, which was not accepted by the previous state government.

The blockade was imposed on November 1 in protest against the creation of seven new districts. The Nagas maintain that the “lands of the Nagas” left by their forefathers cannot be taken away in this manner.

Now that the agreement is reached, UNC President Gaidon Kamei and Publicity Secretary S. Stephen, now in judicial custody, are likely to be released soon. Besides all cases relating to the blockade will be closed, as per the agreement.

Several trucks were torched, drivers attacked and security personnel ambushed by unidentified persons along the highways during the blockade.

“Talks shall continue at the political level,” Milan said quoting from the agreement.

The Manipur government was represented by Additional Chief Secretary Suresh Babu and Commissioner K. Radhakumar, central government by S. Garg, Secretary in the Ministry of Home Affairs in charge of North-East, while the UNC was represented by former President Paul Leo and leaders of the ANSAM and the NWU.

Manipur had been reeling under acute shortage of all essential commodities, including fuel, due to the blockade. Hardly 300 trucks and oil tankers could lift essential commodities twice a week, which proved to be the proverbial drop in the ocean.

The BJP had assured the people that if it formed the government, the blockade would be lifted within 48 hours.

–IANS

il/nir

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