Rishang moots modification of Jun 18 status
Source: The Sangai Express

Imphal, July 22: Rajya MP Rishang Keishing has stated that modifying the June 18 declaration from State holiday to 'restricted holiday' might pave the way to end the economic blockade impasse amid reports of ANSAM likely to finally come to the negotiating table for talks to end the current impasse.

Interacting with The Sangai Express at his Mantripukhri residence shortly after calling on Governor Dr Shivinder Singh Sidhu to discuss the prevailing situation arising out of the blockade today, Rishang said that 'restricted holiday' could lead to a break-through in solving the current crisis.

On his session with Dr Sidhu at Raj Bhavan, the MP stated that he highlighted the inconveniences faced by the common people under the impact of the economic blockade and urged the Governor for his personal intervention in solving the problem.

Dr Sidhu besides assuring the veteran politician of all possible assistance to end the impasse is said to have reciprocated in a positive manner when the MP urged him to reciprocate positively if any suggestion comes from ANSAM to hold talks at a place of their choice.

Informing that he has been maintaining constant touch with ANSAM representatives on the blockade issue, Rishang Keishing said that he advised the leaders of the student body to meet the CM as related movements will hardly progress till the issue is discussed threadbare.

In case there is any reservation in meeting the CM, the seasoned politician had intimated to ANSAM of his willingness to arrange a session with the Governor, said the MP on his relentless effort to end the dispute.

Expressing that following enormous pressure from various section of the society to lift the blockade considering the hardships besetting the general public some ANSAM leaders have softened their posture, Rishang disclosed and added that ANSAM leaders may announce their position after attending a meeting scheduled at Kohima today itself.

Taking serious note of the agitation taking a violent turn with the Irang bridge dislocation incident, the Rajya Sabha MP who also holds the distinction of being the longest serving CM of the State so far, said it would be very unfortunate if the NSCN (IM) was involved in dismantling the bridge.

If the NSCN (IM) cadres were indeed involved in the sabotage, then it could have a negative impact on the ongoing peace process, Rishang observed and added that he has told the ANSAM leaders that there is little escape route in case the Govt of India decides to take appropriate action.

Evading a direct reply on whether SPF Govt had committed a blunder by declaring June 18 as State Holiday, Rishang opined that it would be wrong to forcibly impose incorrect decision and said it would be in the fitness of things to right the 'wrong' to promote peace and tranquility.

Expressing that every section of the Manipuri society have been upholding the interest of Manipur, the MP categorically stated that targeting public property in the course of any agitation is unacceptable.

Expressing hope that modification of the June 18 declaration may be able to turn the situation around, the MP also refuted reports of signing the Naga Integration memorandum under duress.

Urging all concerned to abandon myopic mind-set, he explained that appending his signature on the memorandum had nothing to do with dissecting the territorial integrity of Manipur or creation of Greater Nagaland but was just an endorsement of Naga people's aspiration to live as a single entity.

"Despite being born a Naga I'm very much a citizen of Manipur", Rishang said and emphasised on peaceful co-existence to usher in an era of development and prosperity.

In the aftermath of the MP calling on the Governor, spokesperson of ANSAM, Ngachonmi Chamroy, who is also the vice president of the student body, said that ANSAM has received yet another missive from the State Government to come to the negotiating table.

Acknowledging that Church leaders, NGOs and tribal elders and MPs Rishang Keishing and Mani Charenamei (Lok Sabha) have been asking ANSAM to negotiate with the Govt, Chamroy said that any decision pertaining to acceptance of talks proposal would be discussed with the Governor.

Outrightly rejecting that the NSCN (IM) was involved in the Irang Bridge incident, Chamroy claimed that ANSAM volunteers snapped the NH-53 link in connection with intensification of its agitation.

He also refuted news report which said that NSCN (IM) cadres involved in the sabotage were injured.