Pillai meets top officials of Nagaland, Manipur on blockade
NH protection force to be put in place
Source: Hueiyen News Service

New Delhi, June 16, 2010: Union Home Secretary G K Pillai today met Manipur Chief Secretary D S Poonia and Nagaland Additional Chief Secretaries A Jamir and Toshi Aier to discuss issues relating to the movement of vehicles through National Highway (NH)-39 and NH-53. The meeting was held against the background of the blockade imposed by Naga student groups on the highways in Manipur for the past two months.

An official press release said today's meeting took note of the fact that the Naga Students Federation had withdrawn the economic blockade in Nagaland from 6 pm yesterday.

It also took note of the Guwahati High Court's order to the Central Government and the State Governments of Nagaland and Manipur that NH-39 and NH-53 be kept free from all obstructions.

According to the release, all sides reiterated the importance of keeping the National Highways open for movement of goods and people.

It said the Government of India was committed to keeping the NH-39 and NH-53 open.

The first convoy of goods for Manipur, as informed by the State Government, is expected to move to Imphal on Saturday.

The permanent arrangement of National Highway Protection Force for protecting and keeping open NH-39 would also be put in place, the release added.

The two-month-old blockade, which had led to an acute shortage of essential items such as food, fuel and medicines in Manipur and had caused great hardship to the people of the state, had become a matter of serious concern to the Central Government.

Union Home Minister P Chidambaram had already spoken to the Chief Ministers of the two states to take necessary steps to have the blockade withdrawn.

The Home Ministry said that it had, at the request of the Government of Manipur, decided to shortly deploy additional para-military forces on NH-39 to remove the blockade and keep the highway open for unhindered movement of people and goods.

The Centre had also taken various steps in recent weeks to ensure a steady flow of essential supplies to Manipur, including the air-lifting of food items and medicines.

On Monday, representatives of the Naga Students Federation met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh here and gave indications that they would heed his appeal and suspend the agitation temporarily.

The Naga student groups are protesting against elections to six autonomous district councils in the Hills.

The protests intensified after reports that NSCN (IM) leader T Muivah was planning to visit his ancestral village in Manipur.