Patil calms LS with promises to neutralise blockade
Blockade issue features in Lok Sabha courtesy BJP, SPF accused of sleeping over the matter

Source: The Sangai Express

New Delhi, August 04: Unveiling a multi-pronged strategy, Home Minister Shivraj Patil today said security forces have been asked to end the 45-day economic blockade of Manipur and all possible routes including airlifting of supplies would be undertaken, if required, to ensure that the people in the State did not suffer.

Responding to a calling attention motion moved by VK Malhotra (BJP) and others in Lok Sabha on the situation arising from the economic blockade, Patil termed as �encouraging� the talks between the Manipur Government and the All Naga Students' Association, Manipur (ANSAM) and hoped this would help solve the problem.

Accusing the Congress-led Manipur Government of not taking any action in improving the situation, Malhotra demanded the State Government be dismissed and President's rule imposed.

If required, the army should be deployed.

�Ministers of Manipur Government and representatives of ANSAM met in Senapati (hill district of Manipur).

The reports are that the talks between them are encouraging and will help in solving the problem.

They are likely to continue these talks�, Patil said.

Union Home Secretary VK Duggal is likely to visit the area very soon to help State Governments in the North-East to overcome difficulties that they are facing, he said.

Ajoy Chakraborty, CPI, asked the Minister to apprise the members of the outcome of the parleys with the Naga rebels.

Thawar Chand Gehlot, BJP, charged the Manipur Government with not taking remedial steps to resolve the crisis.

Describing the situation as �very sensitive�, Ramji Lal Suman, Samajwadi Party, said the entire burden should not be left on the State Govt and sought Centre's intervention in expeditiously resolving the issue.

Rupchand Pal, CPI-M, said Government should immediately send the Home Secretary to Manipur.

Thokchom Meinya, Congress member from Manipur, wanted deployment of effective highway protection forces.

Patil said the Centre was in touch with State Governments of Manipur, Nagaland and Assam and monitoring the situation.

He said Chief Ministers of Assam and Nagaland have promised to extend all the help required in ensuring that essential commodities were allowed to be transported to Imphal and other places without any obstructions.

He said the Home Secretary would meet Chief Secretaries of these States.

Asserting that those who were involved in the blockade in Manipur and other places should be stopped, he said security forces have been asked �to see that the blockade is not allowed and law and order and peace is maintained in the area�.

Patil told the House that Indian Oil Corporation and Food Corporation of India have been asked to make all efforts to send maximum supplies to Manipur.

�Full protection to convoys carrying these essentials is to be assured,� he said adding the Union Home Secretary will be again meeting top officers from North-Eastern States to discuss ways to end the blockade.

The Home Secretary had held a meeting with Chief Secretaries and DGPs of these States on July 15, Patil said.

Maintaining that only common people suffered whenever the blockade of this nature takes place, the Home Minister said �we are sympathetic to the suffering of the common people in the State of Manipur�.

�We have asked the State Government to do everything possible to overcome the difficulties arising out of the shortage of essential commodities in the State,� he said adding �we have promised them help in every respect to see that there is no shortage of essential items in the State�.

In case it becomes necessary, airlifting of commodities like medicines would be done, he said.