The North East People's Organisation (NEPO), an Imphal-based organisation, on Thursday demanded that the Centre intervene immediately to end the impasse over the blockade of National Highways 39 and 53, the lifeline of Manipur.

The blockade arose over the proposed visit by National Socialist Council of Nagalim (Isak-Muivah) general secretary Thuingaleng Muivah to his birthplace Somdal, and has resulted in the acute scarcity of food articles, medicine and other essential commodities in the landlocked State.

Appealing for the immediate lifting of the blockade, NEPO appealed to different communities in Manipur, Assam and Nagaland to observe the highest tolerance and go in for peaceful means of solving the crisis through dialogue.

The organisation is opposed to the use of force to remove the blockade as it apprehends that such a move could damage the unity and emotional ties between the valley and the hills of Manipur.

Scarcity of items

NEPO functionaries N. Mohilal and Mantu Ahanthem told journalists that because of the blockade, Manipur was reeling under an unprecedented scarcity of food, essential commodities, and lifesaving medicine for the past 40 days.

The price of petrol has shot up to Rs.200 a litre, diesel to Rs.150 a litre, and LPG to Rs. 2,000 a cylinder.

The functionaries said that although the Manipur government airlifted lifesaving drugs and rice, it was insufficient. Operations in State-run hospitals and the Central government-run Regional Institute of Medical Sciences (RIMS) are still suspended.

Dr. Mohilal pointed out that the overall condition of NH 53 was very poor and there were 12 suspension bridges along this highway, making it difficult for the movement of heavy-laden trucks.

“NH 150 through Mizoram is a very long route, but the transportation cost involved is very high,” he said.

The NEPO cautioned that unless drastic steps to improve the food and medicine supply were taken, the situation may move to a level beyond control.

“The people of Manipur welcome the ongoing peace talks between the Government of India and the NSCN (IM), but advertently or inadvertently, public order and the right to life of the people have been threatened off and on by the said parties of the peace talks. This has been proved by the recent crisis in Manipur, with the decision of the Union Home Minister to allow to Muivah to visit his birthplace in Ukhrul district without consulting the State government,” the NEPO said in a press handout.

It added that the people and the present Manipur government totally opposed the declared visit of Mr. Muivah.

“The fact that the NSCN (IM) claims that the districts of Ukhrul, Senapati, Tamenglong and Chandel in Manipur and a few areas in Assam and Arunachal Pradesh are on its political map of Nagalim is a clear reason for suspecting the intended trip. The people are behind the Manipur government's decision to allow Mr. Muivah to visit Somdal if he drops the demand for a division of Manipur,” NEPO added.