The Centre on Monday sent 4,000 paramilitary personnel to Manipur to assist forces there to clear a blockade on a national highway connecting the state to Nagaland. With the additional personnel, a total of 17,500 central security forces have been deployed in the state to clear the blockade and help local administration maintain law and order, PTI reported.

“Our priority now is to reopen the National Highway-2 connecting Manipur [to Nagaland],” a senior Home Ministry official said. “While the other highway [NH-37] has been reopened, we want to reopen NH-2 as early as possible.” Meanwhile, the Bharatiya Janata Party urged the United Naga Council to withdraw the economic blockade. Party spokesperson N Biren asked the UNC – which imposed the blockade on November 1 – to seek “another forum” to discuss its demands.

“The ruling Congress government [in Manipur] is answerable to the people of the state for the hardship faced by them,” he said. Biren asked if the Okram Ibobi Singh-led government had made any formal efforts with the Centre to resolve the crisis.

On Friday, the Centre had told the state government that it could not escape the responsibility for the “humanitarian crisis” caused by the economic blockade. “There is a constitutional duty of the state government to bring back normalcy, and they should ensure that there is no blockade along the highway,” Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju had said.

The UNC had called for the blockade of the two arterial highways leading into the state to protest against the state government’s decision to upgrade the Sadar Hills and Jiribam areas to full-fledged districts. The blockade was imposed after the Manipur government announced the formation of seven new districts. On December 12, the Home Ministry had said in a statement that no one would be allowed to take the law into their hands.

The economic blockade has left the state reeling, with an array of attacks on the police. On December 18, the Manipur government has imposed a curfew in Imphal East district as a precautionary measure.