Normal life in Manipur continued to be affected on Sunday in the wake of multiple strikes and blockades since October 30, with essential commodities either in short supply or available at inflated prices. The state government failed to provide foolproof security to escort over 1,500 loaded trucks and oil tankers stranded on the Nagaland-Manipur highway due to these strikes.
Drivers and their assistants as well as people hitching a ride on these trucks are facing starvation and health problems. This week, three jeeploads of police offered to escort trucks to safety but drivers stranded on the National Highway-2 refused to come along.
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Truck driver Rakesh Taorem said keys of their vehicles have been snatched by activists of the United Naga Council.
“A handful of policemen cannot provide ironcast safety to us since the number of stranded vehicles is over 1,500. In the past, vehicles that broke down on the way were torched by protesters. The government should give us meaningful protection,” he said.
A few petrol pumps operating till now shut down on Sunday. However, those selling fuel on the roadsides in the black market are doing roaring business. Cooking gas is available, but at exhorbitant price in black market. Prices of consumer items too have shot up. Meat and fish brought from other states are in short supply.
L. Basanta, who hitched a ride on a truck from Guwahati, said: “There is a serpentine queue of loaded trucks coming from Nagaland at the Manipur border. There is no food for the stranded. Tribal villagers are not allowing stranded perons to hang around or even relieve themselves near their villages.”