Blockade of National Highways

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By Col I S Chanam, Retd

Blockade is the most potent weapon the inhabitants along the two national highways have over the government of Manipur. It has become a powerful means to besiege the valley which is ‘chingna koina pansaba, tribals na koina pan-ngakpa’.   During blockades ‘pan-ngakpa’ people instead of protecting the valley,  turn against and  attempt to starve the valley.

BJP Manipur advocates the congress run Manipur government to have a dialogue to amicably settle the present impasse.  ‘Dialogue-dialogue’ has become a fashionable rhetoric. Many people talk of ‘dialogue’ as and when a problematic situation arises. Resorting to a dialogue under the present condition will not be practical. It would amount to asking the government to yield to the demands of the UNC? The UNC will not listen to anything except the government accepting whatever they have been shouting for?

Blockade of the national highways needs to be stopped once for all. The government of Manipur and the valley population will always be under its threat. This occasion is opportune to start the process of eliminating ‘blockade of national highways’ once for all. BJP government at the centre willing to extend full assistance is a good starting point. Without resorting to dialogue, the government needs to initiate and take such measures that would make the ‘blockade ‘unable to achieve its aim. In order to thwart the aim of the blockade, the government must- a) ensure free movement of transport along the national highways and b) ensure no shortage of essential items in the valley. Once the ‘blockade’  is deprived of its devastating effect, its magical power, its potency will disappear.

This will entail  three actions. First-deployment of a strong security force all along the route from Dimapur  to Kangpokpi, with posts at suitable locations. Its task will be to ensure security along the route. The portion between Dimapur to Kohima also  should preferably be covered despite assurance of assistance from Nagaland Government. It is in this portion that NSCN collects heavy taxes from Imphal bound trucks under the very nose of Nagaland police. This tax is one of the causes of high prices in Manipur. Second – security escorted convoys should ply along the highway frequently enough to ensure no shortage of essentials. The convoys be accompanied by repair teams with recovery vehicles, to instantly repair broken down vehicles and un-repairables are towed to security posts.  Third- legal actions against the blockaders, by arresting them followed by filing FIRs under relevant section of IPC. The leaders must be apprehended and charge sheeted. Their cases must be disposed off at the level of judicial courts and not short circuited at political level.    Perpetrators of blockades in the past were not convicted and let off scot free. There is no fear of the law, hence repeated blockades.  Severe punitive action will be the only deterrent.

When the blockade loses its desired effect, the blockaders will lose their enthusiasm. Dialogue as a measure to ‘save face’ may be considered then and it will bear fruit. Otherwise also the blockade will die a natural death.

A protection force for the national highways is a permanent requirement for Manipur till railways connect up Manipur with the main land.

(This article does not intend to comment on the conflict arising from Ukhrul and its fall out. The article  targets only on blockades  as such.)

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