People in the Imphal valley expect something good to emerge from the Public Interest Litigation filed by a local seeking a ban on frequent imposition of economic blockades on Manipur&’s two vital lifelines by tribals in the hills to draw attention to their grievances.
A division bench of the Manipur High Court has reportedly ordered the state government to arrange “adequate security” to ensure a free flow of traffic along the 214- km Dimapur-Imphal Road that cuts through some Naga-dominated areas and the next hearing will be after four weeks. The valley-dwellers, the worst sufferers are sure to welcome this because over the past few years there has been one blockade too many, and one lasted as long as 101 days. The Centre could do nothing beyond pacifying the Meiteis by airlifting some essential commodities, something unheard of in democratic India.
The current blockade (suspended since Thursday night) was called by the United Naga Council, the apex body of Nagas in the state, demanding the withdrawal of the three Bills which the state government passed in August, actions that the tribals feel are against their interests. And this comes barely two weeks after the council organised a 48-hour shutdown on the same issue last month. What is disgusting is the fact that now it has become a fashion to impose a blockade even on a minor issue like the government&’s failure to fill teachers’ vacancies in the hills or adequately equip rural health centres.
The highway is also every truck driver&’s nightmare (rampant extortions) come true. Any disruption of the 314- km Dimapur-Imphal-Moreh Road is bound to affect Indo-Myanmarese trade, legalised in 1994 and yet to pick up. If the highway is to play an important role in the Narendra Modi government&’s bid to make the Act East Policy a success, it must be seen to be really concerned.