Lightning bandh greets Ministerial team at Senapati
Source: Hueiyen News Service

Imphal, August 07 2010: The Central government's emissary along with the ministerial team of the state government on a goodwill mission at Senapati district headquarters today was greeted with lightening bandh.

The mission was branded as an "unwelcome guest" by the Naga bodies.

Representatives of the agitating UNC and ANSAM also failed to turn up in the meeting scheduled to be held at the office of the DC, Senapati.

Despite their absence the public meeting which lasted for about two and half hours (from 10.30 am to noon) at the DC office complex discussed to find a way to bring a settlement to the demands put forward by the Naga bodies.

A team of officials of the Union Home Ministry along with a ministerial team of state government accompanied by top officials of the state government was headed to the district headquarter to meet with leaders of agitating UNC and ANSAM and hold talks to bring them to the negotiating table today.

Apart from three cabinet ministers, DD Thaisii (Tribal Development), N Biren (YAS and spokesperson of SPF government) and TN Haokip (PHED), the team on goodwill mission included Joint Secretary (north east in-charge) of Union Ministry of Home Affairs, Navin Verma and another official of the ministry Samir Jolly, Manipur Chief Secretary, DS Poonia, Principal Secretary (Tribal Development), LP Golmei and Joint Secretary (home) Devesh Deval among others.

District level top officials of the Senapati district, DC Nithi Keshawarni, SP Nishit Kumar Ujawal and other officials of the district also took part in the meeting.

No representatives of UNC and ANSAM or leaders of other civil organisations took part the meeting which thoroughly discussed their demands.

Union Joint Secretary (Home), Navin Verma, speaking at the meeting assured that the demands of the UNC and ANSAM will be tabled to the state government for discussion at the high level.

It is not a right step to cause suffering to all section of the people in the state by a civil organisation to get its demands he said pointing out that the a 20-day blockade is being imposed on the highways while the people are yet to get relief from the prolonged 68-day blockade imposed earlier.

He also cautioned that if the blockade is continued further, it will not yield a good result.

Government will discuss at the high level to provide security escorts to freight trucks and other vehicles for all time so as to ensure that there is no shortage of food, petroleum products and other essential commodities to the people of the state.

Tribal Development minister, DD Thaisii informed the gathering people that after the UNC and ANSAM failed to turn up in the meeting convened by the Chief Minister, they had been invited to participate in the meeting held today at Senapati and aired their demands.

The team will submit a report to the Chief Minister about the meeting and a request for inviting them once again, Thaisii said hinting that government will not discontinue its efforts to bring the agitating bodies to the negotiating table.

Chief Secretary, DS Poonia said that the frequent disturbances given on NH-39 will slow down the Central government plan to make this highway a trans-Asian highway connecting Thailand through Myanmar.

Principal Secretary (TD and Hills) Golmei made a detailed presentation on the Manipur (Hill Areas) District Council Act 1971 and subsequent amendment in 1975, 2006 and 2008 in connection with the demand of "null and void" to the elections held under the Act by UNC and ANSAM.

In his presentation, it was noted that elections to the six ADCs were successfully conducted in May-June last after over 20 years.

Joint Secretary (home department) Devesh Deval presented status of the action taken by the government with regard to the demands of the UNC.

He clarified that the warrant of arrest on the heads of the UNC and ANSAM presidents were issued in compliance with the directive of the Gauhati High Court.

In this regard the persons concerned will be required to make an appropriate petition to the High Court.

Even though the team negotiated all hurdles in reaching the district headquarters, they were greeted by empty streets with all shops and other establishments except the district administrative office and district police headquarters remained closed to mark the boycott of ministers and officials.

The lightening bandh was called by the residents of the district headquarter showing solidarity to the decision of UNC severing political tie with the Manipur government and support the demand of declaring "null and void" the recently held elections to the ADCs in hill districts.

On the arrival of the ministers and officials on the goodwill mission, residents took to the streets and burnt debris and wood on the road apart from erecting barriers with the intention of preventing the team from entering the district headquarters.

Security forces on duty on the stretch of the highway cleared the road by dousing the fire on the road.

Fire fighters of the Senapati district were also pressed to service to clear the road even though agitating people in large number on the streets tried to prevent the team with the slogan 'Unwelcome Guest".

The joint team proceeded to Senapati district headquarters as per scheduled and reportedly tried their best to contact the leaders of the agitating UNC and ANSAM even though UNC had hinted of boycotting the talks.

As expected all efforts to meet them turned out to in a vain.

The team left Imphal for Senapati around 8.30 am.

They reached at about 10.30 am and attended the meeting which last till noon.

They came back at about 1.30 pm.

Today's ministerial team with Central government officials was the second time the Manipur government has made an effort to bring the agitating UNC to the negotiating table since the body announced re-imposition of the economic blockade on the national highways.

Government invited the UNC to attend a round table consultative meeting on the matter of Autonomous District Councils (ADCs) on August 3 last but the invitation was not accepted lamenting that it was an attempt of the government to arrest president of UNC and ANSAM who were declared "wanted persons" by state police department.

Other hill based bodies including Kuki based bodies, invited to the meeting, also boycotted it.

Meanwhile the team after returning to Imphal has expressed regret through a statement issued by the Chief Secretary that an opportunity for a free dialogue had not been made use of.

However, it stated that the join team unanimously resolved to once again issue a joint appeal to the UNC to call off the economic blockade in the larger interest of all communities in the state.

The statement also reiterated that the state and Central governments are always open to a dialogue and the UNC is welcome to meet the state government representatives.

Mention may be made that UNC has been imposing economic blockade on the national highways demanding judicial inquiry into the May 6 incident at Mao gate that killed two youths and injuring scores of people, declaration of null and void the ADCs election, lifting of CrPC 144 from the Naga inhabitant areas among others.