Manipur highway blockade will be cleared soon: CM

Manipur CM O Ibobi Singh voiced confidence that the 73-day-old blockade on two National Highways connecting the state would be cleared.

New Delhi: Manipur Chief Minister O Ibobi
Singh on Thursday voiced confidence that the 73-day-old blockade on
two National Highways connecting the state would be cleared
"as soon as possible".

"We are trying to resolve it (the blockade issue) as
early as possible," Singh told reporters after a meeting with
Home Minister P Chidambaram here.

The CM said the District Reorganisation
Committee, which was constituted to look into the demands of
the agitators who are blocking NH 53 and 39, is expected to
give its report at the earliest.

"I hope that they will submit the report before the
Election Commission code of conduct comes," he said.

The economic blockade on the highways linking Manipur,
where assembly elections are due early next year, entered the
73rd day today despite the Centre sending security forces to
ensure smooth supply of essential commodities to the north
eastern state.

Home Ministry officials have expressed concern over the
long blockade which is affecting normal life in Manipur, where
prices of all goods have shot up to an unprecedented level.

The Sadar Hills District Demand Committee launched the
economic blockade on Imphal-Dimapur-Guwahati NH 53 and the
Imphal-Jiribam-Silchar NH 39 since August 1 demanding
conversion of the Kuki-majority Sadar hills area in Naga-
majority Senapati district into a full-fledged district.

United Naga Committee, opposing the Kukis` demand for
granting district status to Sadar Hills, launched a
counter-economic blockade on the same national highways on
August 21.

Asked whether his government was ready to create new
districts as demanded by some groups, the Manipur Chief
Minister said, "Let the report come...but if necessary we will
take action accordingly".

Singh dismissed the reports that there was crisis in
essential commodities and their prices were going up.

"We are monitoring the price situation. All essential
commodities are available at the market price," he said.

So far, more than six vehicles have been set afire by
supporters of the blockade while at least four persons
including a driver were killed in blockade-related incidents.

Manipur Youth Affairs and Sports Minister N Biren, also
the government spokesman, has claimed that prices of essential
commodities have come down since trucks were coming in with
security escorts.