Noney closes door on Erabot, jeep seized, AR looks on
Source: The Sangai Express

Imphal, May 27 2010: After the counter blockade imposed in some parts of the valley areas against the prolonged blockade on the two National Highways has been gradually lifted, CAF &PD Minister Yumkham Erabot went to Noney today on a goodwill mission with an appeal to lift the blockade only to be brushed aside by the local leaders.

Besides, denying any opportunity to talk about the issue, Erabot's vintage Jeep (Mahindra) has also been seized by blockade supporters.

Interestingly, reports have come in that AR personnel who came across the Jeep refused to extend any help, saying that it is the internal affairs of the State.

The Jeep which was carrying workers of Erabot, including non-locals came across a team of Assam Rifles after crossing a bridge towards Imphal and pleaded to help them but it was turned down, said workers of Erabot.

Another team of Assam Rifles also reciprocated in the same manner.

The Jeep was hijacked while on its way to Imphal by some youths who came on motor cycles.

According to the latest report, the Jeep, though damaged has been handed over to the AR at Kotlien.

With an appeal to lift the ongoing blockade along NH-53 in the interest of the public, a goodwill mission team led by Erabot went to Noney Bazar today.

The team included well known Kabui leaders from the valley.

Not deterred by the Home Department's refusal to provide a section of armed security personnel for the formal tour programme, the CAF&PD Minister went ahead with the goodwill mission with only his house guards and the PSO.

The team reached Noney Bazar at about 11.30 am.

However, as soon as the team reached there, all shops, hotels and vendors closed down and packed up their merchandise.

On being enquired about this sudden hostile development, it was disclosed that the shopkeepers and hotel owners were asked by some people not to offer a single morsel of edible item to the visiting team and also to close all the shops and hotels.

Following this, the people at Noney Bazar dispersed and went away.

On being explained that the team was there with an appeal to lift the blockade and initiate a dialogue so as to bring peace, some people retorted asking as to why the Minister and his team came to Noney when tension was running high in the area.

It was learnt that the local people were threatened by blockade supporters not to talk about anything with the visiting team.

Erabot and his team were also asked to leave the place as soon as possible.

At this, a police team led by one unarmed Inspector who were already there took Erabot to the nearby Inspection Bungalow (IB).

Sometime later, a large group of women came to the IB and urged Erabot to leave Noney.

Media persons who accompanied the team were prohibited from taking photographs.

Sensing the apprehension and uneasiness felt by the local people, Erabot and his team left Noney.

On the way back, one Mahindra jeep (MNP/806) owned by Erabot since youthful days very dearly which was travelling rearmost in the convoy was seized by blockade supporters.

Nevertheless, people travelling in the jeep were let off unharmed.

Later speaking to media persons, Erabot said that he has not lost confidence.

"Although I was not given any chance to talk with the people of Noney in the first attempt, it was not a defeat", Erabot said with conviction adding that he would continue with his efforts to open a dialogue.

"The Home Department's refusal to give me additional escort personnel could not dent my programme", Erabot asserted.

He also assured that he would continue working to bring an understanding through dialogue with the womenfolk blocking transportation of petroleum products and other essential commodities to Senapati and Ukhrul.