Manipur is caught between Naga, non-Naga protests

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Imphal, May 21 (ANI): Commoners in Manipur have been severely affected by the protests launched by non-Naga people against National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN-IM) general secretary Thuinhaleng Muivah's attempt to visit his ancestral village.

Muivah's decision to visit Somdal, his ancestral village, has been strongly opposed by non-Nagas in Manipur.

They believe the visit would create tensions, as the NSCN (IM) has demanded a 'Greater Nagaland' comprising of Naga-inhabited areas of neighbouring states, including Manipur.Muivah might have come very innocently. If he causes threat to territorial integrity, than we oppose it. And, we should protest for it," said Open Singh, a protestor in ManipurIt is a sit in protest to show our strong objection and to condemn the NSCN-IM's terrorist Muivah's attempt to enter the state to break up Manipur's integrity," said Nutan Singh, general secretary, Youth Development Organization.

Manipur is suffering due to a month-long economic blockade spearheaded by Naga groups in protest against the autonomous council elections in the hill districts in April.

After holding talks with the Centre, Muivah has been camping in Viswema village near the Nagaland-Manipur border.

Muivah, a Tanghkul Naga, belongs to Somdal in Manipur's Ukhrul District.

There is a severe shortage of essential items, including live-saving medicines, petrol and diesel, due to the Naga-sponsored economic blockade.

Hundreds of trucks were stranded in the adjoining state of Nagaland, with Naga protesters laying a siege to the National Highway 39 which is considered the lifeline of Manipur'.

"Now prices have gone up significantly. One bag of rice, which earlier cost Rs. 670, has now gone up to Rs. 980. I can't afford it. No poor person will be able to buy rice," said Ahanbi Devi, usinesswoman, Manipur.

"It has affected us very badly. People are fighting and running around to get fuel, that's the reason why everyone is standing out here. Now a litre of petrol costs Rs. 150 to Rs. 200. How an we run our vehicles?" said L Loken Singh, a local, protestor.

To resolve the crisis, Union Home Secretary G K Pillai and peace interlocutor R S Pandey visited Manipur and Nagaland.

While Pillai held discussions with the Manipur Government about the situation, Pandey met senior Naga leaders to assuage their hurt feelings in the wake of Manipur's stand. illai also met Nagaland Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio in Kohima and Muivah to chalk out a broad strategy to ensure that supplies of essential commodities is not blocked from reaching Manipur.

Ethnic tensions between the two communities have stunted progress in Manipur even as other states in the northeast are making their way steadily to a better future.(ANI)

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