NEW DELHI: Weeks before the Assembly elections, the Centre on Wednesday asked Manipur government to end the ongoing logjam in the State to ensure peaceful polls and also offered to rush more paramilitary forces to remove the blockade on the state’s supply lines.
“We have asked Manipur CM to ensure the normalcy is restored immediately as the state is going to polls in two phases. The Centre will send more paramilitary forces if required,” a senior official of the Union Home Ministry said.
Last week, the Centre had rushed 40 companies of the central paramilitary forces Manipur in addition to the 135 companies that are already stationed there.
Manipur Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh met the Union home Minister Rajnath Singh here on Wednesday evening and apprised him of the prevailing situation in the State where the United Naga Council (UNC) had imposed an economic blockade on the state’s two supply lines, National Highway 2 (Imphal-Dimapur road) and National Highway 37 (Imphal-Jiribam road).
The Centre cannot directly intervene in lifting the blockade as it was a law and order problem which is the domain of the State government.
“We can take over the National Highway which is our property but the removal of the blockade and people from NH-2 is the state government’s responsibility,” the official elaborated.
The UNC had imposed an economic blockade since November against the Okram Ibobi Singh government’s plan to create new districts by bifurcating the state's Naga-inhabited areas.
On January 4, the Manipur CM had rushed to Delhi and met the President Pranab Mukherjee and Election Commission (EC) officials following speculation that President’s rule could be imposed in the State.
“The state government is now under EC control and the Centre has no direct role to play. We can only assist the state government in lifting the blockade,” the official further said.
The Union Home Ministry is closely monitoring the law and order situation in Manipur and the Centre was not in a hurry to clamp President’s rule.
“Imposing President’s rule is an extreme step and it is resorted to when all the state machinery collapses. We are helping the state government to restore normalcy there and sent a report to the EC about the prevailing hostile situation. Now the EC has to take a call.”