The economic blockade in Manipur this year has exceeded the 120 days record of 2012, something that seems to have become a ‘way of life’ in Manipur. After four months of continuous blockade of NH 2, has the UNC been able to achieve its stated objectives? Have we the Nagas been able to convince the Manipur Govt to reconsider their decision of establishing new districts? Was this the most effective approach by UNC? As the elections gets over, it is time that the Nagas take a mature and pragmatic view of the core issue instead of continuing the economic blockade without gaining anything tangible.
The common man across all communities is the only one who suffers as the elite can afford these blockades and the powerful do not have a problem of supplies. It deepens the ethnic divide, something the politicians thrive on especially during elections. No economic blockade in Manipur has ever led to resolution of contentious issues and therefore this may not be the ideal approach to resolution of the problems.Taking a firm stand, the full bench of Manipur High Court has declared this economic blockade of UNC illegal,as it interferes with the fundamental right of the people& alsodirected the State and Central Govt to ensure smooth vehicular traffic over NH-37 as well as NH-2.
Unfortunately, the hills have suffered the most due to the economic blockade as the supplies through NH-37 were distributed in the Valley. The Naga Community as a whole has suffered across both states.While the Southern Nagas got no supplies, Nagaland lost almost 30% revenue in excise and taxes.Even the trade between the Valley & Hill people has suffered affectingall communities adversely.
Bandh and blockades cause tremendous economic loss and undue hardship. The total loss suffered by the Manipur economy due to the economic blockade in 2011 was estimated to be Rs 245.64 crore by Department of Economics and Statistics, which this time is being pegged at double the amount. The loss due to destruction of property by the volunteers and supporters is in addition.The prices of essential commodities sky rocketed due to shortage, thus leading to hoarding, black marketing and therebydestabilizing the tottering and fragile economy of the state. Even life saving drugs were not available to either of the communities in the state.
While the economic losses can be made up, the loss of trust and faith will take long to heal. This is the root cause of all troubles in the state and the gulf has widened, due to the rigidity in stance by all. Despite being aware of the political machinations, the common man has once again been duped into supporting their political leaders and caused suffering to his own community in the bargain.
All stakeholders in Manipur including politicians, socio-political organisations, student organisations, state administration and most importantly the local population need to take a step forward to ensure that such economic blockades do not recur in the state ever.This would be a sign of an evolving society and state.
(The writer is PRO Defence)
Source: The Sangai Express