NSF suspends blockade, ANSAM sticks to stand
Source: The Sangai Express / Agency

Imphal/ New Delhi, June 15 2010: Even as the Naga Students' Federation has suspended the blockade in Nagaland section of NH-39, the All Naga Students' Association Manipur (ANSAM) has maintained that it would carry on the ongoing blockade until the Government of Manipur understands the 'issue' rationally.

A press release issued by ANSAM maintained that it would continue with the ongoing blockade.

It decried that the State Government proclaimed UNC and ANSAM presidents as wanted men with a cash reward of Rs one lakh each on their heads even as the UNC was considering to review the blockade.

Proclaimation of the UNC and ANSAM leaders as wanted men was the greatest insult to the Naga people, it remarked while decrying that the UNC's ultimatum of five days to revoke the proclaimation of UNC and ANSAM leaders as wanted men had expired without any positive response.

It further maintained that Naga people will not allow functioning of the imposed council formation and results of the imposed ADC elections will stand null and void in the "Naga Hill Districts".

ANSAM also reiterated their demand for withdrawal of commandos and IRB from Liyai Khunou, Jessami, Mao Gate and all Naga areas immediately.

A major showdown between security forces and tribal Naga protesters was averted with the apex tribal students' group of Nagaland announcing that it would suspend the more than two-month blockade of roads leading to Manipur by Tuesday evening.

"We are temporarily suspending the economic blockade from 6 pm, Tuesday, following personal requests by the Prime Minister and the Home Minister after we met them last evening (Monday) in New Delhi," Naga Students' Federation (NSF) president Mutsiikhoyo Yhobu told reporters.

Several Naga tribal groups have blocked the main highway leading to Manipur since April 11 to protest against the decision of the State Government to hold the elections to the ADC under the 3rd Amendment of 2008 .

The two-month blockade of main roads has led to severe shortages of food and medical supplies and soaring prices.

Landlocked Manipur depends on supplies from outside the region with trucks from the rest of India carrying essentials passing through Nagaland.

'In view of the decision by the NSF to suspend their agitation, we have decided not to use force to break the deadlock for the time being, but would provide paramilitary escorts to truckers carrying essentials into Manipur to avoid any untoward incidents,' a senior Manipur police official said, requesting anonymity.

On Monday, Union Home Secretary GK Pillai had said paramilitary troopers from the CRPF and the BSF would escort trucks carrying food and medicines by NH-39 from Assam to Manipur passing through Nagaland.

"We may resume our agitation once again if the Manipur Government fails to address our primary demands," the NSF leader said.

The demands include better facilities for the nearly 500,000 Naga settlers in Manipur, besides allowing Muivah, the general secretary of the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN), to visit his ancestral home in Manipur.

The Manipur Government had banned 75-year-old Muivah's trip to his home village, saying it could stoke unrest.

On May 6, six tribal Naga protestors were killed and up to 70 injured in clashes with police as Muivah tried to defy a ban on him returning to his village.

'Even if the NSF had decided to withdraw the blockade, we still believe there is fair amount of threat perception to the truckers from Naga tribal people.

So we request the central government to provide security escorts to bring in supplies through National Highway 39,' N.Biren Singh, Manipur government spokesperson and senior minister, told news agencies.