Imphal, Jan. 20: Manipur High Court and the state government are pondering methods, including force, to open the Imphal-Dimapur highway but truck drivers are unwilling to resume services along the route fearing attacks by supporters of economic blockade.
A full bench of the high court, comprising Chief Justice Rakesh Ranjan Prasad, Justice N. Kotiswar Singh and Justice Kh. Nobin Singh, today asked Maj. Gen. Anil Chouhan, the GOC of 57 Mountain Division, Maj. Gen. Virender Singh, IG (South) Assam Rifles, Mahendra Singh, DIG CRPF Manipur centre, and director-general of police L.M. Khaute to appear before it on Monday.
The court will hear suggestions from top army, paramilitary and police officials on the steps to be taken to ensure free flow of traffic along National Highway 2 (Imphal-Dimapur road) and National Highway 37 (Imphal-Jiribam road) and the difficulties in reopening the highways.
Following a directive from the court on Tuesday to take specific steps to reopen the highways, the combined headquarters (CHQ) of the army, paramilitary and police had convened a meeting yesterday and submitted its proceedings to the court today. The CHQ is chaired by chief minister Okram Ibobi Singh.
The high court had on Tuesday expressed its dissatisfaction over the steps taken by the government so far to open Manipur’s supply lines.
The United Naga Council (UNC) had imposed indefinite economic blockade on the highways on November 1 in protest against the division of Naga-inhabited areas to create new districts. The blockade has since choked the supply of essential commodities to the land-locked state.
While the government has been providing security escort for trucks to ensure some supplies along NH 37, it is avoiding NH 2 because the route passes through Senapati town where offices of UNC and other Naga organisations are located.
The court is expected to give specific instructions to the state government and security forces on Monday to take measures to ensure free passage of vehicles on both the highways.
Truckers, however, are unwilling to resume services along the Imphal-Dimapur highway. “Driving along the Imphal-Dimapur road will be suicidal as the economic blockade imposed by the UNC is still on. The situation along this route is very tense. Human lives cannot be bought with money,” H. Ranjit Singh, president of the Transporters and Drivers Council, the apex body of transport organisations in Manipur, said.
He threatened to stop transport services if the government forces them to resume services along NH 2.
The government is trying to reopen the Imphal-Dimapur highway by deploying central forces along it following strong pressure from the Centre and the high court.
The court of sessions judge M. Manojkumar Singh today sent N. Ajay Singh, son of BJP spokesperson N. Biren Singh, to prison for five years in a firing case. The court had, on January 6, convicted Ajay for culpable homicide in a 2011 firing incident in which Irom Roger, 21, was killed after Ajay fired from his licensed pistol in a traffic row.