Rajnath to meet Manipur CM over economic blockade

Imphal, Jan 18 (IANS) Home Minister Rajnath Singh will meet Manipur Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh on Wednesday to discuss the protracted economic blockade along the two national highways in the state.

The meeting in New Delhi is being held in the wake of Manipur High Court observation on Monday that efforts to bring essential commodities through the NH 2 and 37 are “not satisfactory”.

While a meeting of the Congress Legislative Party on Tuesday told Ibobi to put all his cards on the table.

Besides, a 17-member team of the Joint Forum of Peace formed by 64 civil society organisations, will meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the Home Minister and others to demand lifting of the blockade imposed by the United Naga Council (UNC) on November 1.

Rajnath Singh has expressed surprise that the UNC has not lifted the blockade as some scribes from Manipur met the minister recently.

Minister of States for Home Kiren Rijiju recently said the blockade in any form was “totally unacceptable” and “additional central paramilitary forces will be rushed to Manipur to cope with the situation”.

Hundreds of loaded trucks and oil tankers bring various items from Assam through NH 37.

However, the NH 2 that snakes through Nagaland is impassable as activists have blocked the highway. Even military convoys are stopped and checked.

The Naga Students’ Federation, a Nagaland based group, had banned all vehicles from Manipur on NH2. The group is reluctant to ply along the highway as it feels there is not enough security cover.

The UNC demands that council President Gaidon Kamei and Publicity Secretary Stephen Lamkang, who are in police custody, be released and talks be held in Senapati district of the state, where its office is located.

However, Ibobi has said: “First, the UNC should lift the blockade and ensure to never repeat it again. Talks can be held either here or Delhi.”

“The UNC cannot choose the venue since other clubs and organisations shall emulate it in future and the government will be reduced to a farce.”

Meanwhile, over 1,500 loaded trucks and oil tankers wait for security cover at Jiribam, a town in Manipur which is adjacent to Assam.

–IANS

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