Imphal: A three-day `total blockade` called by Naga leaders has begun in parts of Manipur despite an appeal by Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram and Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh to Naga groups to suspend their agitation, an official said Friday.
The blockade, which began Thursday night, has badly affected life. Naga leaders say this is to protest the Manipur government`s agreement with leaders of the Sadar Hills Districthood Demand Committee (SHDDC).
"Shops, banks, offices and educational institutions were shut while vehicular traffic remained off the road in Naga tribal dominated areas, specially in northern and western Manipur, due to the stir," a government official told reporters here Friday.
"Life was crippled in the hilly regions. No untoward incident has been reported yet from anywhere in the mountainous areas adjacent to Nagaland and Assam," the official added.
Accompanied by the chief minister, Chidambaram during his two-day trip that ended Thursday, visited different parts of Manipur. He appealed to Naga groups to call-off their agitation and sit with the government to resolve their demands.
"There is no problem which could not be solved through dialogue," Chidambaram said at the gatherings held in Tamenglong and Senapati districts
A joint statement issued by the United Naga Council (UNC) and the All-Naga Students` Association in Manipur (ANSAM) said, "The state government`s handling of the issue of formation of a new district is condemnable."
"The Manipur government had signed an agreement with leaders of the Sadar Hills Districthood Demand Committee (SHDDC) Monday midnight without consensus. The accord is in complete violation of the agreement the government had reached with the Naga bodies earlier," the statement said.
The SHDDC had launched the economic blockade Aug 1 on two arterial national highways - Imphal-Dimapur-Guwahati (NH 39) and Imphal-Jiribam-Silchar (NH53) - to press the demand for conversion of Kuki tribal majority Sadar Hills area into a full fledged district.
The 92-day long economic blockade was lifted by the SHDDC Tuesday following the agreement.
However, tribal Nagas inhabiting the area are opposed to creation of a full fledged Sadar Hills district.
The Nagas have since Aug 1 also launched a counter-blocakde on the two highways opposing the demand by the Kuki people for a separate district.
Of Manipur`s 2.7 million residents, 33 percent are tribals, comprising 29 major tribes in the hills, with Nagas and Kuki being two of the dominant ones.