Delhi mulls force against protesters
Source: The Sangai Express / Nishit Dholabhai (Courtesy: The Telegraph)

New Delhi, June 12 2010: The Centre is considering the option of using force against protesters imposing the economic blockade on National Highway 39 to Manipur as prices of essentials continue to soar in the frontier state.

Under pressure from civil society groups in Manipur as well as from the media and people in general, Delhi is impelled to consider using force against activists of a resolute Naga Students Federation and All Naga Students Association, Manipur (ANSAM).

"It is one of the options," said a home ministry official. Sources said the decision to use force might be taken as early as Monday.

The student bodies had blocked two prime routes to Manipur to oppose the autonomous district council elections in the state last month and intensified their agitation after NSCN (IM) general secretary Thuingaleng Muivah was refused entry into Ukhrul.

A section of Naga Students Federation leaders is in the national capital now, speaking to various political groups and civil society leaders to put their point of view forward.

Apparently, they are also under pressure from the Nagaland government and the Naga Hoho to rethink the strategy.

Sources in Manipur told The Telegraph that at a meeting on Wednesday, the Hoho had only discussed the "overall Naga problem".

It is clear though that sections within the powerful civil society organisations are of different opinions on continuing the blockade.

Home ministry sources said the government is waiting and watching for a peaceful resolution and hoped that the blockade would be called off.

"Force is the last option and we hope the issue will be resolved," a source said.

Pressure is being put on the civil society groups supporting the blockade from various quarters.

While a Gauhati High Court order has asked the ANSAM president to appear before the court, the president of the United Naga Council of Manipur (UNC) has been declared "wanted" by the Ibobi Singh government, UNC sources claimed.

The Centre suspects that the civil society groups in Manipur and Nagaland are also influenced by the NSCN (I-M) leadership.

Therefore, when the talks are held in Delhi later this month, it will be up to Muivah to answer several questions.