Rijiju blames Congress government in Manipur for economic blockade

Union minister of state for home Kiren Rijiju on Wednesday blamed the Congress-led government in Manipur for the deteriorating law and order situation, saying the maintenance of law and order is the “constitutional obligation” of the state government.

Rijiju, on the sidelines of a function organised by the BJP-led alliance government in Assam, also appealed to the Manipur government as well as the agitating United Naga Council (UNC) for joint efforts to call off the economic blockade to allow free and fair elections in the state.

On November 1, the UNC imposed an indefinite economic blockade on the Imphal-Dimapur (NH 2) and Imphal-Jiribam (NH 37) highways in protest against the Manipur government’s move to upgrade Sadar Hills and Jiribam to full-fledged districts by bifurcating the Naga-dominated areas.

“I had visited Manipur two weeks ago and held a very positive meeting with chief minister Okram Ibobi Singh. The Central government is ready to intervene and assist the state government in any matter but maintenance of law and order is the constitutional obligation of the state government,” said Rijiju.

“It is unfortunate that the blockades in Manipur are still on, causing problems to the common people. I also appeal to the UNC to sit for talks so that the problems and issues could ne resolved for good,” he said.

“At the same time I also appeal to the state government not to aggravate the situation. Let us not think of taking political benefit out of a humanitarian crisis,” Rijiju appealed.

Meanwhile, Assam-based organisations of Manipuri people on Wednesday warned of retaliation if the Naga-imposed indefinite economic blockade of Manipur is not withdrawn soon.

“All forms of blockade and counter-blockade should end, failing which there will be retaliation,” the World Manipuri Organisation based in Cahar district of Assam said in a statement.

Other Manipuri civil society organisations based in Assam also warned of drastic steps like counter-blockade if the present blockade is not withdrawn soon.

More than 800 empty trucks and oil tankers left Manipur capital city Imphal on Wednesday to fetch fuel and essential commodities from Assam, two days after 519 trucks and oil tankers brought the badly needed fuel and consumer items to the state.

On the other hand, the proposed tripartite talks between the central and state governments and the United Naga Council, which has imposed the state’s economic blockade for the past several months, failed to take off.

The UNC has been demanding that the government should release its President Gaidon Kamei and Publicity Secretary Stephen Lamkang first and that the venue for all talks should be Senapati district of Manipur where its head office is located.

However, the Manipur government has refused to accept the demands, saying the UNC should call off the blockade and give an assurance never to repeat the blockade in Manipur.

The venue for talks should be Imphal or Delhi. If Senapati is chosen, other groups will start making similar demands, the state government said.

The Manipur government also said, “Though a demand for 60 companies of paramilitary personnel was made, the Centre had rushed just 29 companies.”

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