Imphal: The indefinite economic blockade in Manipur that entered its 121st day Monday has been temporarily withdrawn, said a leader of the United Naga Council (UNC) spearheading the agitation.
"We have decided to temporarily lift the blockade on the two national highways from 6 am Tuesday," UNC president Loli Adani told a public meeting at the Naga-dominated Tamenglong district of Manipur.
The UNC is spearheading the blockade on the two national highways since Aug 21 to counter the economic blockade launched by the Sadar Hills District Demand Committee (SHDDC) on Aug 1 demanding conversion of the Kuki tribal majority Sadar Hills area into a full-fledged district.
The SHDDC lifted the blockade on two highways -- Imphal-Dimapur-Guwahati (NH39) and Imphal-Jiribam-Silchar (NH53) -- on the 92nd day after the state government agreed to their demand of creating a district, a move opposed by the Nagas.
But the UNC continued with their blockade - the Manipur blockade entered its 121st and the UNC-led strike its 100th day Monday.
The decision to lift the blockade comes ahead of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh`s daylong visit to Manipur Dec 3 where he is scheduled to launch and inaugurate several development projects. The prime minister is also expected to address a public meeting.
The UNC`s decision is seen as an olive branch with the Naga leadership hoping to get an audience with the prime minister to air their grievances.
The two highways are the lifeline to Manipur as supplies of all essentials are brought to the state from adjoining Assam and other parts of India.
The blockade that began August 1 had led to severe shortage of essentials, petroleum products and cooking gas cylinders, besides medicines.
A cooking gas cylinder was sold at the black market for as high as Rs 2,000, while a litre of petrol sold at Rs 200.