The United Naga Council on Tuesday said it would continue its fight against “land grabbing on the pretext of administrative convenience” in Manipur. The organisation’s statement indicates that it would not lift the three-month economic blockade in the state despite upcoming elections in March.
“An emergency Presidential Council of the United Naga Council was convened to consider the outcome of the tripartite meeting between the Centre, state and the United Naga Council on February 3,” the statement said. The UNC also accused the Manipur government of breaching an agreement to refrain from addressing the media. The UNC said Manipur chief minister Okram Ibobi Singh had incorrectly announced an end to their blockade.
UNC president Gaidon Kamei and publicity secretary Stephen Lamkang also demanded the release of its “political prisoners”, The Huffington Post reported.
“The code of conduct cannot limit the Union of India or the Manipur governor from intervening and fulfilling their constitutional obligation to safeguard and protect land belonging to tribals, as enshrined in the constitution.
The economic blockade has disrupted the transport of essential items to Manipur through National Highways 2 and 37, and has affected everyday life. It was imposed by the UNC on November 1, 2016, to protest against the government’s decision to upgrade Sadar Hills and Jiribam areas to create seven full-fledged districts.
On December 12, the Home Ministry had said in a statement that no one would be allowed to take the law into their own hands. About a month later, Manipur Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh had dismissed a ministry report that had said the law and order situation in his state was “not conducive” to conduct Assembly elections.
Polls for the state’s 69 Assembly seats will be held in two phases on March 4 and March 8. The Home Minister on January 31 had sought the Election Commission’s intervention to resolve the crisis.