Manipur blockade to continue despite poll dates’ announcement: Naga Council
New Delhi, Jan 4 (IANS) The United Naga Council (UNC) on Wednesday said that they will continue with the economic blockade despite the announcement of Manipur assembly elections by the Election Commission.
According to the UNC — apex body of the Nagas based in Manipur — elections cannot be held peacefully in the Naga-inhabited areas of Manipur until the prevailing problems are resolved.
“The blockade will continue. Solving of Manipur’s problems has to be done through dialogue between the parties in conflict. So far, the government of Manipur has failed to respond politically.
“We have no other option but to intensify the blockade, no matter what the Election Commission has announced regarding the polls in the state,” K.S. Paul, former President of the UNC, told IANS from Manipur.
The Election Commission of India on Wednesday said five states, including Manipur, will go to polls to elect their new assemblies between February 4 and March 8. Manipur will vote in two phases — March 4 and 8.
Paul — an active member of the UNC — said the Manipur government has betrayed the Nagas of Manipur.
“We have been betrayed by the Manipur government, as it did not consult us on the creation of seven new districts out of our ancestral land. We do not know whether the situation will be conducive for holding free and fair elections in the Naga areas of the state,” said Paul.
“Bulldozing the interests of the Nagas, particularly on the issue of our ancestral land, won’t be compromised under any circumstances. We do not consider the Manipur government as a popular government, as the districts were created without consulting us,” added Paul.
Tension has been simmering in Manipur due to an economic blockade called by the UNC in the state. National Highways (NH) 37 and NH 2 have been badly affected due to the blockade.
Although the blockade started on November 1 when the state government was planning to create new districts by bifurcating the existing Naga-dominated areas, it intensified after the government ignored the agitation and went ahead to declare Jirbam as a full-fledged district.
The state government also created new districts of Kangpokpi, Tengoupal, Pharzol, Kakching, Noney and Kamjongin.
According to the UNC, the creation of new districts out of Naga territory without their consent is a deliberate act to suppress the rights of Nagas in the state.
In December last year, Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju said the central government will extend all assistance to restore normalcy in the state.
Apart from sending 150 companies of para-military forces to Manipur when the blockade started, the central government also sent seven additional companies of para-military forces, a step condemned by the Nationalist Socialist Council of Nagalim-Isak-Muivah(NSCN-IM).