Omnipotent force enforcing blockade ?
IF the attack on the convoy of goods laden vehicles at Khumji village near Noney town had anything to do with the on-going economic blockade along the two national highways in Manipur sector, then the current stir is likely to create an undesired record of being the longest siege laid on the lifelines. The strife-torn state had experienced the longest spell of shortage of essential commodities in 2011 when economic blockade was imposed for 120 days, in addition to another 20 days wasted on account of other forms of agitation such as bandh and strike the same year. That year the common people endured severe hardships when the economic blockade enforced from August to October by the now-dissolved Sadar Hills Districthood Demand Committee, in pursuit of its demand for upgrading Sadar Hills to a full-fledged revenue district, and was followed by the United Naga Council launching counter-blockade from August till November to oppose the move for granting district status to Sadar Hills, which the state government eventually recognised as Kangpokpi district in December last. On account of Manipur being home to different indigenous communities with varying interest and aspiration, it has been synonymous with all forms of agitation. However, laying siege on the two lifelines for protracted period is generally assumed to have the potential of creating social unrest and escalate tension as such stir is viewed as targeting the valley settlers, mainly comprising the majority Meetei and an equally increasing number of tribal populace.
The Khumji attack is not the first such incident to have occurred during the on-going economic blockade or since the state cabinet approved creation of seven new districts as three state security personnel were slain in two ambushes along the Imphal-Moreh route minutes before the official inauguration of Tengnoupal district, security forces overpowered and their service weapons snatched on the Imphal-Jiribam stretch while a driver suffered injuries in firing by unknown persons. Significantly, no insurgent groups claimed responsibility these attacks as had been customary whenever armed outfits launch offensives against security forces or indulge in unlawful acts such as planting and exploding bombs. It is a well-established fact that economic blockade has been the favourite tool to exert pressure upon the government even though it is the valley settlers who suffer the most for majority of the state’s population reside in the plains. The frequent attacks on goods carriers amid constant claims by the blockade sponsor – UNC and other civil society organisations that the agitation is a democratic movement to safeguard rights of the Nagas, compels one to speculate whether the on-going agitation has the blessing and active involvement of an omnipotent force, which could strike any moment and anywhere regardless of engaging and deploying substantial number of security forces for the safe journey of transport operators. Sadly, the latest attack led to the demise of a civilian and injuries suffered by three others, who have got nothing to do with the transportation of goods or security arrangement.