ANSAM sticks to blockade stand
Source: The Sangai Express

New Delhi, August 02: Defending the economic blockade imposed by Naga groups in Manipur as the "most democratic means of protest", community leaders today said it would not be lifted unless the State Government revokes its decision declaring June 18 as 'State Integrity Day'.

A delegation of Naga Hoho, a traditional parent organisation of Nagas, and the All Naga Students' Association, Manipur (ANSAM), who met senior Central leaders here, said the 42-year-old blockade had been imposed "with a reason as the Manipur Government was ignoring the grievances of Nagas living in the State´┐Ż.

Naga Hoho general secretary Neingulo Krome, however, said they were ready to discuss the issue with Manipur Government but preferred that talks be held in Delhi or Senapati district of the State where Nagas are a majority.

The leaders had met UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, Home Minister Shivraj Patil, Minister of State for Home S Reghupathy and Central interlocutor for Naga talks K Padmanabhaiah over the last week.

"The Home Minister requested us to negotiate with the Manipur Government (on the blockade).

We will discuss this with our leaders back home," Krome told reporters here.

However, the agitation would continue as long as June 18 continued to be proclaimed as a holiday to mark 'State Integrity Day'.

ANSAM had launched the indefinite blockade on June 19, saying the move was against the plan for unification of Nagas.

ANSAM Tribunal general S Kho John admitted that people were suffering because of the blockade, but "this is only temporary.

It is the most peaceful and democratic means of protest and we had no option but to resort to it to give vent to our grievances".