The economic blockade in Manipur was lifted off on Tuesday after 92 days. The state government bowed down by providing a written assurance to create a new hill district.
The agreement occurred between the Sardar Hills District Demand Committee (SHDDC) and the State government was signed around midnight in capital Imphal with leaders of the Committee and senior officials present at the meeting.
The SHDCC had launched the economic blockade Aug 1 on two national highways – Imphal-Dimapur-Guwahati (NH 39) and Imphal-Jiribam-Silchar (NH53) – to press their demand for conversion of Kuki tribal majority Sadar Hills area into a full fledged district. “We have decided to withdraw the blockade following assurance from the government to create a new district,” a SHDCC leader said.
The government side was represented by state Chief Secretary DS Poonia. However, tribal Nagas inhabiting the area are opposed to creation of a Sadar Hills district. The Nagas have since Aug 1 also launched a counter-blockade on the two highways opposing the demand by the Kuki tribal people for a separate district. The Naga counter-blockade is being spearheaded by the United Naga Council (UNC).
There is still no word from the UNC on its response to the agreement although some leaders said the blockade would continue. Several civil society groups urged the UNC to call of the economic blockade as it was greatly inconveniencing the local population.
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