Manipur election 2017: Miffed with state response post talks UNC refuses to lift economic blockade

Days after the tripartite meeting in Delhi which was called for a resolution of the economic blockade in Manipur, on Tuesday, the United Naga Council (UNC) announced that they will continue the blockade citing the reason that the state government has still not called for a roll-back of the seven new districts created on 8 December.

After the tripartite talks which were held on 3 February between the Centre, the state government and the UNC, Manipur Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh announced that the blockade will be lifted on Tuesday and they will "unconditionally release two UNC leaders."

An emergency Presidential Council of UNC was convened on Tuesday to consider the outcome of the tripartite meeting where they reached a consensus that despite several talks with the Naga leaders, the Manipur government has not called for a roll-back on the creation of seven districts, which were declared on 8 December 2016 by the Ibobi government without the consultation of the Naga leaders (stake-holders and the owners of the land) in the matter.

Talking to Firstpost, S Milan, general secretary of the UNC said, "The Naga people who own the land must be consulted before making any decisions regarding the land. The governments move shows their utter disrespect for the community."

Representational image.

Representational image.

On the matter of the roll-back of the seven districts, the Manipur government, during the tripartite meeting, pleaded "helplessness" on taking up the issue as the election code of conduct which has come into effect from 4 January prohibits any political decision on the matter by the state government or the Centre till the elections in the state (scheduled for 4 and 8 March) conclude.

Sources told Huffpost India, that the UNC had considered temporary suspension of the blockade but changed their minds after Ibobi told media that the issue of new districts was not discussed in the tripartite meeting and that the UNC has decided to call off the blockade.

In an interview with Outlook, Ibobi released the details of the tripartite meeting which according to the UNC were meant to be kept under wraps. Answering a question related to the expected date for lifting of the economic blockade, Ibobi said, "Tomorrow (Tuesday). Simultaneously it should happen as per agreement with Ministry of Home Affairs." He further said, "Mutually we have agreed, simultaneously, if they lift the blockade, we will release the office bearers of UNC, the president and another secretary also. From the state government side, what we have given commitment for, we are ready. This is our understanding between UNC office bearers and the state government in the presence of the union government."

In a press release forwarded by the UNC, they reiterated that the economic blockade will continue on the state, till decision to create the seven districts is reiterated. It said, "The Presidential Council therefore reiterates the rejection of the creation of seven new districts and resolved to continue to fight against the insidious design of grabbing our land on the pretext of administrative convenience till the same is withdrawn."

When asked whether he can forsee a successful resolution of the economic blockade in the state which has affected the prices of basic commodities in the state, Milan said, "Ibobi opened the Pandora's box when he decided to create smaller districts. If he is the one who creates the situation, he should also be the one to diffuse the situation."

The UNC has called for another tripartite meet with the centre and the state government on 25 March, after the Assembly elections in the state are concluded.

The economic blockade which has lasted for 101 days was called by the UNC to oppose the recent creation of the seven new districts which according to them was created without consulting the Naga tribes residing in the hills. The economic blockade which came into effect on 1 November 2016, has hit the prices of basic commodities which was doubly effected by the demonetisation announced on 8 November.

Ibobi government justified the creation of the smaller districts citing that it would make the administration easier in the state which is hampered by navigation in the hilly terrain.

The ruling Congress government in the state has called for this step several times in its 15-year-rule. However various MoUs between the Naga tribes and the government have been signed which hamper such a step. Political experts believe that Ibobi's move reflects on his communal politics — that the decision was made before the elections to divide and secure the votes of the people residing in the hill and the valley.


Published Date: Feb 07, 2017 07:05 pm | Updated Date: Feb 07, 2017 07:05 pm


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