GUWAHATI: Manipur will go to polls in the first week of March under the shadow of the ongoing economic blockade.United Naga Council (UNC), Manipur’s apex social organisation of the Nagas, on Saturday decided to “intensify” the blockade, enforced on two national highways — lifelines of the land-locked state — since November 1.
“The UNC today (Saturday) met the leaders of 16 Naga tribes of Manipur. The meeting endorsed all the recommendations and decisions of an earlier meeting of the Nagas. We have decided to intensify the blockade and ban on the construction of national projects and picketing of government offices in Naga areas,” UNC general secretary Milan Shimray told Express.
There was a perception that the UNC could lift the blockade in view of the Assembly polls in the state. But Milan categorically said the blockade would continue till elections and beyond.
“Elections are not our priority. Our priority is to protect and safeguard our ancestral homeland. Nobody should impose any decision on the land of our forefathers,” he asserted.
“Our agitation is not against any people. It is against the Manipur government for not upholding and honouring past assurances about our land. In November last year, the Ministry of Home Affairs had convened a tripartite meeting, but the Manipur government didn’t send its representative. It shows Ibobi (Manipur Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh) wanted the situation to go on. He never wants peace,” Milan alleged.
The UNC enforced the blockade in protest against Ibobi-led Congress government’s decision to create seven more districts without consulting the Nagas. Now, the State government has been providing security to goods-laden vehicles from Nagaland and Assam.
The blockade was enforced in protest against the state government’s decision to create seven more districts, particularly Sadar Hills, without consulting the Nagas.
He had said, “We have not yet discussed banning Congress in the Naga areas. Three anti-tribal bills were introduced in August and subsequently, four NPF (Naga People’s Front) MLAs had resigned in protest but eight other Naga MLAs (all of Congress) did not comply with the resolution of the Nagas”.
On August 31 last year, three bills — Protection of Manipur Peoples Bill 2015, Manipur Land Revenue and Land Reforms (seventh amendment) Bill 2015, and Manipur Shops and Establishment (second amendment) Bill 2015 — were introduced in the Assembly. The Nagas viewed the bills as anti-Naga.