Breakthrough in tripartite talks, Nagas to end Manipur blockade

The decision was taken following an agreement reached during a tripartite talk on Sunday involving All Naga Students' Association Manipur and Naga Women Union -- and government representatives. 

Published: 19th March 2017 08:01 PM  |   Last Updated: 19th March 2017 10:29 PM   |  A+A-

Express News Service

GUWAHATI: The economic blockade that had crippled Manipur for nearly five months
would be lifted from 12 am on Monday, said an official statement, after talks among the representatives of the Centre, the State government and Naga groups.

The move comes ahead of newly elected BJP Chief Minister Biren Singh’s all-important floor test in the Assembly on Monday.

The blockade was imposed by the United Naga Council on November 1, 2016, opposing the creation of seven new districts by the erstwhile O Ibobi Singh-led Congress government in the State. The protesters
had blocked two main highways in Manipur depriving the State of essential commodities. Earlier, several rounds of talks on the issue had failed.

The UNC has said it decided to lift the blockade following the recognition of its grievances by all concerned.

The statement was signed by joint secretary Satyendra Garg of the Union Home Ministry, additional chief secretary (Home) J Suresh Babu, commissioner (works) Radhakumar Singh of the Manipur government, UNC general secretary S Milan and All Naga Students Association president Seth Shatsang.

“The grievances of the UNC, which led to the imposition of the blockade, were recognised as there was no adherence to the four MOUs (by the Manipur government) and also the government of India’s assurance on the matter. The Manipur government has agreed to start consultations with all stakeholders to redress the same,” UNC general secretary Milan Shimray told Express.

He said another reason was to create a conducive environment for the democratic process of consultations and dialogues.

“The Manipur government had decided to unconditionally release the arrested UNC leaders and all cases against the leaders of Naga tribes and student organisations will be closed,” Shimray added. UNC president and its publicity secretary, both arrested in the wake of the blockade, are currently in judicial custody.

The tripartite talks were held initially on February 7 in Imphal for ending the blockade on two national highways — NH 2 and NH 37. But they failed to make any headway as the UNC refused to allow the
seven new districts to be carved out.

The stakeholders had 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 the political level.

Manipur Governor Najma Heptulla welcomed 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.

(With PTI inputs)

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