New blockade record in sight
With the agitating United Naga Council’s presidential council meeting held on Tuesday in Senapati district headquarters deciding to continue with the on-going economic blockade along the two national highways that connect Manipur with other parts of the country, the common people in this land-locked state are likely to witness creation of yet another unwanted record in the form of the current highway siege surpassing the 120 days of throttling supplies of essential goods into the state in year 2011. In fact, UNC alone has no right to claim the undesired distinction scripted over five years back for the economic blockade enforced from August to October was first enforced by the now-disbanded Sadar Hills District-hood Demand Committee, in the latter’s pursuit for upgrading Sadar Hills to a full-fledged revenue district. Ironically, the state cabinet’s recent decision to cede to the committee’s demand and announcing creation of Kangpokpi district along with six other new districts has resulted in the UNC intensifying the agitation. Leaders of the agitating Naga body might be of the view that they have a valid point in prolonging the agitation on account of the state government not showing any sign of yielding to the UNC’s demand to roll back the decision made on creating the new districts or release its chief two functionaries arrested by the police, but the council leaders’ indifference towards suffering of the citizens also expose their inhumane side.
Notwithstanding the people’s grit and determination to overcome the hardships and seemingly ulterior motive of elements hell-bent to heighten ethnic tension in order to sow seeds of hatred amongst the indigenous communities, the situation demands that there should be no laxity in the efforts by the central and state governments as well as civil society organisations to bring an end to the blockade and mitigate the people from their miseries. At the same time, the government of Manipur should not ignore the importance of properly maintaining the Imphal-Jiribam stretch of NH-37 by exerting pressure upon the work agencies for accelerating road repairing and bridge construction works during the working season. As had been evident from various incidents of assaulting transport operators without any viable reason, all available resources and man-power need to be concentrated in making the said route friendly to the travellers and truckers on account of the highway continuing to serve as the only supply link. Not many would complain even if the route resembles a dust bowl during the dry season or is transformed to water-logged craters when rains fall as long the condition is still conducive for plying of goods carriers. Moreover, there would be hardly any need for pressurising the transport operators to take the Imphal-Dimapur stretch of NH-2 for this route has not only been technically remaining under the control of adversary elements but compelling the goods transporters to resume service on it is akin to fattening purse of unlawful organisations, whose agenda include dividing Manipur on ethnic lines.