2011 : Year of blockades - Suspended or lifted ?
- The Sangai Express Editorial :: November 28 2011 -

Protest Rally against creation of Sadar Hills District at Noney  :: August 26 2011
Protest Rally against creation of Sadar Hills District at Noney :: August 26 2011 - Pix :: Jimmy Leivon

After 120 days the National Highways that connect the State to the outside world are free from the vice like grip of economic blockades.

While it was the Sadar Hills Districthood Demand Committee that set the ball rolling on August 1 the United Naga Council arrived at the scene with its counter blockade on August 21 and embarked on a solo show from November 1 after the SHDDC suspended its highway stir on October 31 midnight effectively turning the counter blockade to a complete blockade and in the process tagging 'year of the blockades' on 2011, surpassing the earlier records set in 2005 and again in 2010.

A highwaynised version of "The King is Dead, Long Live the King".

It was as if there should be no punctuation to the reign of blockade on the highways and to the State Government and Delhi as well, this appeared to be perfectly normal.

Just recall some of the barbs from our elected leaders, 'Till Mao the trucks can be escorted but the problem lies beyond that as the State Government has no authority there,' 'Schools and colleges have not shut down,' 'Foolproof security will be provided along NH-37 after August 15,' etc and one will get a fair idea of the farce that was staged in Imphal at the height of the economic blockade/s.

In as much as the UNC sponsored economic blockade was anticipated, the decision to suspend it has not come as a surprise. The writings on the wall were too clear to be missed.

In many ways it is nothing less than a gesture of rolling out the red carpet for Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh and AICC chief Sonia Gandhi who are scheduled to visit Manipur on December 3 and of course heeding the call of Union Home Minister P Chidambaram to end it.

Besides it is also important to bear in mind that the Christmas season is at hand and its significance on the Christian community of the State should not be lost on anyone.

The timing says it all. We have deliberately stayed away from stating that the economic blockade has been called off for the possibility of it being reimposed hangs heavy in the air.

If Delhi catches a cold over the Alternative Arrangement demand raised by the UNC, the sneeze that follows can trigger a series of aftershocks in the valley areas of Manipur.

And remember too, the Sadar Hills issue is far from being resolved and the possibility of the blockade coming back with renewed vigour can never be written off.

For the moment, the salutations of the people may go to Delhi and Dr Singh and Madam Gandhi for engineering the suspension of the economic blockade for it can bring a reprieve to the people, even if only for a period.

'Called off' or 'suspended' is an interesting question but in the ultimate analysis this question should not arise for the thread that runs through all the economic blockades witnessed in 2005, 2010 and 2011 is the demand for a Greater Lim.

The Sadar Hills issue appears different but the Lim issue standing on its way is an uncomfortable reality and only a political novice can afford to overlook this.

Coming back to the Lim thread running through all these marathonesque blockades and it should become clear to all that so long as this issue continues to hang over the map and consciousness of Manipur and her people, more blockades will be in the offing.

Hence the reason why 'suspending the blockade' is a more apt description behind the latest decision of the UNC. This is also all the more reason why the Government cannot revert to its culture of self imposed ignorance made worse by arrogance.

The Lim issue/Alternative Arrange- ment/Supra State Body is beyond the call of the State Government but this does not mean that any form of agitations launched on this premise and which cut off the supply lines of the people are beyond the ambit of the State Government.

We stand guilty of repeating ourselves, but the only way to tackle the politics of blockade is to connect the State with as many routes as possible.

Besides the Imphal-Dimapur line, Imphal-Jiribam line and the Jessami route, all possible means should be taken up see what can be done along routes like Tongjei Marin, Thinungei-Jiribam route etc.

What has happened to the 2007 election manifesto of the Congress wherein it was assured that these routes would be upgraded to the status of National Highways ?

This is again a repeat but then to a Government which has steadfastly refused to listen, repeating such questions becomes necessary.

Remember the imperatives behind the coke jingle ? Keep on repeating so that it registers.

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