Top ministers, Army chief review Manipur situation

Top ministers, Army chief review Manipur situation

Top ministers, Army chief review Manipur situation

Top central ministers, along with security officials, today reviewed the prevailing situation in Manipur where a 75-day long economic blockade on national highways has crippled normal life.

Home Minister Rajnath Singh, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, Army Chief General Bipin Rawat, Home Secretary Rajiv Mehrishi and other top officials closeted for an hour to discuss the situation in the Northeastern state.

The Ministers and top officials discussed how to reopen the blocked National Highway 2, the lifeline of landlocked Manipur, and restore normalcy, official sources said.

The top priority of the central government is now to reopen NH-2 which connects Manipur from Assam through Nagaland. While the other highway, (NH-37), is reopened, the Centre wants to reopen the NH-2 too as early as possible, the sources said.

Assembly election in Manipur is scheduled for March 4 and 8 and around 20,000 central security personnel have been sent to the northeastern state keeping in view the security situation in the wake of violence following the economic blockade imposed by the Union Naga Council (UNC) on the National Highways since November 1.

The UNC has imposed the economic blockade on NH-2 (Imphal-Dimapur) and NH-37 (Imphal-Jiribam) that serve as lifelines for the landlocked Manipur. While NH-37 was partially reopened, there is no traffic movement on NH-2.

In a stern message, the Centre had told the Manipur government last month that it cannot escape responsibility for the "humanitarian crisis" arising out of the economic blockade by a Naga group and must work to end it, while making it clear that nobody will be allowed to take political advantage of the situation.

Home Minister Singh had written twice to Chief Minister O Ibobi Singh asking him to ensure reopening of the highway but it did not yield any result. Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju too had visited the Congress-ruled Manipur as a central emissary but the highway has not reopened yet.

Rijiju had said it was completely unacceptable to have such blockades in which thousands of people were suffering and both the central and Manipur governments will work together to end it.

"The state government has not been able to end the blockade. It must end as soon as possible as law and order is the responsibility of the state government. Nobody will be allowed to take political advantage out of a humanitarian crisis where common people are suffering," he had said.