IMPHAL August 20: Even as the valley districts are reeling from want of essential items due to the economic blockade imposed along NH 39 and NH 53 by Sadar Hills Districthood Demand Committee, the United Naga Council (UNC) after holding mass rally against bifurcation of Naga inhabited areas at four hill districts yesterday has again imposed an indefinite bandh along the three national highways of the state.
The total bandh is scheduled to begin from 1 am of Sunday. A press release by the UNC states that the total indefinite bandh will also be effective for interstate and state passenger services, goods carrier trucks of all commercial items along the Naga inhabited areas. It said that the resolve has been taken to demonstrate resentment of the Naga people for an attempt to bifurcate Naga areas for creation of new districts.
It further states that the UNC will not accept bifurcation of Naga areas without the wishes and consent of the Nagas who have been resisting arbitrary encroachment and creation of artificial boundary of their land since the colonial periods. Hence, any attempt on the part of the government of Manipur to create new districts without consulting Nagas will be strongly opposed, it said.
Further, the Nagas have signed four MOUs with the government of Manipur , wherein in the MOU of 1988 which states that “ Resolution to the conflict on the issue of the Sadar Hills will be brought about through a consensus of the people concerned in the interest of bringing about lasting peace and harmony between the Nagas and the Kukis” and also, the said memorandum of understanding agreed to honor the agreement made in 1981,1992,1996 and also recognized the issue of land as the bone of contention between the Kukis and the Nagas.
The government should not take any hasty decisions in the matter and handling of the present crisis and the biased attitude of the state government is viewed as an attempt to pit one community against another, it said.
Meanwhile, the economic blockade which commenced from August 1 has caused immense hardships to the populace. Inter district transport have been severely affected due to lack of petrol and diesel even as rationing have begun from August 17 . Prices of essential items have nearly doubled in the last three weeks and cooking gas has not been distributed effectively. Even the judiciary has been affected as lawyers of the High Court Bar Association are unable to attend court proceedings due to unavailability of fuel.
Dayanidhi Huidrom, a nutrition scientist in the matter said , “ State government must weigh options before deciding on any major issue, public can demand potable water supply, better roads, electricity, or industries to be set up in the particular area. A new district may not always be the answer, if people start demanding Imphal Northeast or Southeast, then will the government consider”.
Syamsunder Haobam, an IT professional said, “ People should learn from Anna Hazare about how to protest, which has caught not only national attention but followed suit in neighboring Pakistan too. Imposing economic blockades or general strikes along the national highway means depriving right to life for lakhs of people. Economic blockades along the highway in the past have not yielded the desired results.”
Interestingly, comments sought by IFP from other intellectuals and human rights activists were not solicited.