On Day 100, Manipur CM warns of `harsh action`

Manipur Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh Tuesday warned of "harsh action" against protestors as the economic blockade on the national highway entered its 100th day in the northeastern state.

Last Updated: Nov 08, 2011, 14:38 PM IST

Imphal: Manipur Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh Tuesday warned of "harsh action" against protestors as the economic blockade on the national highway entered its 100th day in the northeastern state.

"The government has waited and watched the blockade stir that has taken a toll on the common people. Our tolerance limit has exceeded," Singh told reporters.

A visibly angry Chief Minister warned protesters of stern action. "We would be forced to take harsh action if the blockade is not lifted soon."

With crucial elections for the 60-member state assembly just four months away, the Congress-led coalition government is widely seen as being cautious about using strong-arm tactics against the agitators.

A team of senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders is soon expected to visit trouble-torn Manipur to monitor the situation.

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi is likely to visit Manipur Wednesday and address a public meeting in Imphal, according to Manipur Pradesh Youth Congress president M Prithiviraj.

A state BJP leader told reporters that senior party leaders Yashwant Sinha, Prakash Javadekar and Vinay Sahasrabuddhe would arrive here later Tuesday or early Wednesday on a three-day visit to the mountainous state.

"The central leaders of BJP would meet local people, agitating leaders, officials and interact with them on the ongoing crisis," the state BJP leader said.

The United Naga Council (UNC) and the All-Naga Students` Association in Manipur (ANSAM) have intensified their road blockade agitation in northern Manipur to protest the Manipur government`s agreement with leaders of the Sadar Hills Districthood Demand Committee (SHDDC).

The SHDDC had Aug 1 launched road blockade agitation on the two arterial national highways NH 53 and NH 39 that link the northeastern state with the rest of the country demanding conversion of the Kuki tribal majority Sadar Hills area into a full-fledged district.

The UNC and ANSAM are organising the blockade on the two National Highways since Aug 21 to counter the blockade launched by the SHDDC.

Tribal Nagas inhabiting northern Manipur (adjacent to Nagaland) are opposed to the creation of a full-fledged Sadar Hills district.

"We will not lift our blockade until the state government revokes the agreement signed with the SHDDC," UNC spokesman S Milan told reporters.

The blockade has badly affected life in Manipur as an unprecedented crisis of essential commodities, including medicines, turns the state into precarious situations. Prices of all essentials have shot up three to four times.

The landlocked state is mostly dependent on the supplies of essentials, foodgrains, fuels and cooking gas from outside.

IANS