Manipur continues to burn as economic blockade turns violent
Imphal (Manipur) [India], Dec. 20 (ANI): Manipur has been grappling with an economic blockade on two national highways, which are economic lifelines of the state.
The blockade, imposed by Naga tribal groups under United Naga Council (UNC) in November against the creation of Sadar Hills and Jiribam districts, has choked the supply of essentials including fuel and medicines to the state.
Taking everyone by surprise, Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh's government on December 8 announced seven new districts in addition to the existing nine in the state.
The UNC, which is staunchly opposed to the move, claims the creation of new districts in the Naga dominated hill areas will encroach upon and divide the traditional land holdings of Naga tribes.
It also claims that the sizeable lands in each of the seven newly created districts belong to the Nagas where they are now reduce to minorities.
Since the blockade was imposed, the state has seen a spike in militant attacks.
Criticising the attacks and killings of cops in the province, vendors of Khwairamband Keithel in Imphal – Asia's largest all women's market – called for a 24-hour statewide shutdown.
"This situation, coming back after so long, makes us really sad because we really felt we are coming back for good but over here, it seems the situation never better than before. It is getting worse with every passing day," said Augustine Shimray, a student.
Normal life in the state has been badly affected. Students coming home for the winter vacation are among the worst hit as they are unable to travel to their hometowns.
"By blocking this road, we have also been affected and we are not trying to cause inconvenience to others. All we want is that the economic blockade in the state should be lifted," added R. K. Binasakhi, a protester.
Earlier this week, the situation took an ugly turn when some groups of people against the economic blockade attacked passenger vehicles, most carrying students, at the Imphal-Ukhrul road.
More than 40 Ukhrul bound vehicles and belongings of 300 plus passengers were torched by the irate mobs.
Following the violence in Khurai area, Imphal East DC Ningthoujam Geoffrey has imposed a curfew under sub-section (2) of Section 144, CrPC 1973, along the stretch of the Imphal- UKhrul road under Porompat and Sawombung sub division of Imphal East.
The curfew will be in place until the situation improves.
Earlier, four women were injured when police fired tear gas shells at angry supporters, who tried to vandalize Manipur Baptist Church at Chingmeirong in Imphal valley – the oldest in Manipur.
Mobile internet services were suspended in the state to prevent rumour mongering.
"I think, it's high time we all come together and try to understand one another. Not only on the outside but it's time we check our hearts how sincere we are in our love and in our interactions with our community and other communities and religious group who are in this place. Only words will not do, we need a serious sincere action," said Esther, a resident of MBC Church Complex. (ANI)