A tribal organisation in Nagaland has said that a blockade that it began earlier this week will continue till armed personnel are withdrawn from disputed areas along the state’s border with Manipur, East Mojo reported on Friday.

The two states are engaged in a border dispute in connection with the Kezoltsa forest area. The Southern Angami Public Organisation, or SAPO, had called for a blockade of National Highway-29 on March 24. The national highway runs through Assam, Nagaland and Manipur.

Southern Angami Youth Organization chief Metekhrielie Mejura said that the decision to call off the blockade depends on the stand of the Manipur government. He said that the dispute was around a boundary that was drawn in the British era.

Mejura claimed that the Manipur had “illegally occupied” Kezoltsa and wondered why the government is hesitating to remove its security personnel from there, according to PTI.

“Despite all humble and polite approaches to withdraw armed personnel and stop any developmental activities, they never paid heed in any manner,” he said. “This is the reason why we have brought the issue to the streets by calling the indefinite bandh.”

Meanwhile, the Tenyimi Peoples’ Organisation – which represents the Tenyimi tribes in Nagaland and Manipur – said that the best way to deal with the dispute was to respect traditional ownership, according to PTI.

The organisation said it had made its stand clear to both the state governments that it did not intend to meddle with the boundary dispute, but only wanted to resolve misunderstandings within the community.

“In spite of all these appeals and communications, the Government of Manipur remains hell-bent on defying the good intentions of the people working towards amicable resolution of the dispute and restoration of healthy relationship amongst all concerned,” it alleged.

On Saturday, Manipur Chief Minister N Biren Singh told the state Assembly that representations were being sent in order to resolve the matter regarding the blockade, according to East Mojo. If needed, talks and negotiations will be conducted at the official level, he added.

Earlier this week, a senior Manipur official had written to the Nagaland government, requesting it to ensure the withdrawal of the blockade, according to the Hindustan Times.

Special Secretary (Home) H Gyan Prakash, in his letter, contended that armed personnel and permanent structures in the area were in Manipur’s territory, and claimed that satellite maps also showed this.

Prakash said that the highway was Manipur’s lifeline and called for the amicable settlement of boundary disputes.