The four-month long Manipur economic blockade imposed by the United Naga Council(UNC) was lifted on Sunday evening. The resolution of the lifting of the indefinite blockade was taken following an agreement in a tripartite talk, involving two UNC constituents — All Naga Students’ Association Manipur (ANSAM) and Naga Women Union (NWU) — and representatives of the central and Manipur governments, UNC General Secretary S. Milan said.
Satyendra Garg, Ministry of Home Affairs – North East in-charge represented the Government of India at the tripartite meeting, while Additional Chief Secretary (Home) Suresh Babu and Works Commissioner K. Radhakumar represented the State Government.
All UNC leaders along with their president Gaidon Kamei, who took part in the previous round of tripartite meeting held at Delhi, were present in the meeting today. The team also comprised of three other former presidents, the president of the All Naga Students’ Association Manipur (ANSAM) and the president of the Naga Women Union (NWU).
Manipur Governor Najma Heptulla later expressed her happiness at the development. “The new development will usher in an era of peace and prosperity,” the Governor said appreciating the “first step of the newly-formed government”. She said that understanding among all communities was of utmost importance to bring about all round development.
Now that the agreement is reached, UNC President Gaidon Kamei and Publicity Secretary S. Stephen, now in judicial custody, are likely to be released soon. Besides all cases relating to the blockade will be closed, as per the agreement.
Several trucks were torched, drivers attacked and security personnel ambushed by unidentified persons along the highways during the blockade. “Talks shall continue at the political level,” Milan said quoting from the agreement.
The UNC had blocked the national highways 2 and 37 since November 1, last year to protest the then Okram Ibobi Singh-led Congress government’s decision to creation of seven new districts by the then Congress government in October, 2016. The Nagas maintain that the “lands of the Nagas” left by their forefathers cannot be taken away in this manner. The indefinite blockade has largely led to acute shortage of all essential commodities, including fuel, in the state. Hardly 300 trucks and oil tankers could lift essential commodities twice a week, which proved to be the proverbial drop in the ocean. Apart from imposing economic blockade, the UNC has also banned National projects in Naga-dominated areas and demanded revocation of the order issued by the previous state government.
The tripartite talks were held first on February 7 in Imphal for ending the blockade on two national highways NH 2
and NH 37, but they had failed to make any headway as the UNC refused to allow the seven new districts to be carved out. The stake holders had earlier met in Delhi on February 4 and the Centre had expressed hope that the blockade would end soon. The joint statement said the next round of tripartite talks would be held within a month at political level.
With Inputs from Agencies