Manipur blockade enters 100th day
Source: The Sangai Express / Oinam Sunil & K Sarojkumar Sharma
Guwahati/Imphal, November 08 2011:
The economic blockade of Manipur entered 100 days on Monday, with no sign of respite for its long suffering people.
While the Kuki tribals withdrew their agitation from November 1, the Nagas remain unrelenting and continue to block the state's lifelines, the Imphal-Dimapur and Imphal-Silchar highways.
The Kukis, who were the first to call for the blockade from August 1, demanded the creation of Kuki-dominated Sadar Hills district from a portion of Naga-majority Senapati district.
The Okram Ibobi Singh-led Congress government assured them that it will look into their demand following the report of district re-organisation committee.
It also agreed to quickly grant three more sub-divisions to Sadar Hills area.
This angered the Nagas who protested against Ibobi Singh's assurance to Kukis of Sadar Hills district without consulting them.
The United Naga Council (UNC) called a counter-blockade on the two highways on August 21 to oppose any move to bifurcate Naga dominated areas without consulting them.
The UNC is also demanding an alternative administrative arrangement for the Nagas of Manipur.
Left without an option with soaring prices of essentials, an angry Ibobi Singh warned protesters of stern action.
"We have waited and watched the agitation that has taken a toll on the common people.
Our tolerable limit is over," he said.
With assembly elections in February 2012, the Ibobi government was wary of using strong-arm tactic against the agitators.
But now that popular opinion in Imphal valley is turning against him, the CM is worried of losing support among the majority Meitei people.
In normal times, around 300 trucks and tankers enter landlocked Manipur daily with essentials and fuel.
During the blockade, the government could manage to get only 1,200 to 1,300 goods trucks a week.
Add to this the cost of escorting these trucks on the Imphal-Silchar and Imphal-Dimapur highways, and the blockade begins to hurt.