Normal life was disrupted in Manipur on Monday in response to the 12-hour general strike called to highlight the problems stemming out of the construction of the fence along the Manipur-Myanmar border. Contending that the union government has turned a deaf ear to the public outcry, the Committee on Protection of Land in Border Fence called the strike. A number of organisations have extended support to the general strike.
All commercial vehicles were off the roads. Buses plying to long distances and trucks including inter-state services were off the roads. All educational institutes were closed, and thin attendance reported in government offices. Many patients from far off places requiring medical attention could not make it to hospitals in Imphal.
There was no report of untoward incident during the general strike. Trucks and passenger buses coming from other north-eastern states were stranded at the border towns of Mao and Jiribam. The legalised border trade at Moreh in Manipur and Namphalong in Mynmar was also ground to a halt.
Police sources said that it was not possible to provide armed escorts to all vehicles during the general strike.
Brozendra Ningomba, convener of the Protection of Land in Border Fence told The Hindu that his organisation and the Manipur government have brought the issue to the notice of the union government. However, till date there has been no response at all. He said that the general strike is just the beginning and warned of more stirs since Manipur will be lossing large chunks of land once the border fence is completed.
After the completion of the border fence 18 villages in the three border districts will be affected. Choro Khunnou village in Ukhrul district will go entirely to Myanmar. When there were protests the Manipur government set up an official committee to look into the matter. It is in the backdrop of the report that Myanmarese army had intruded to Hollenphai village, 3 km away from the police station at Moreh, the border town. When civil and police officials rushed there the Myanmarese army officer maintained that the area belongs to Myanmar as per maps maintained by the Birtishers.
Suresh Babu, the principal secretary (Home) told reporters that what was being constructed was a security wall and not border fence.
Deputy Chief Minister Gaikhangam Gangmei said that once the committee submits its report, a ministerial team will visit the border areas.