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Manipur:Economic blockade to continue

Imphal: The Sadar Hills District Demand Committee (SHDDC), spearheading economic blockade on Manipur portion of two national Highways since August 1, have announced plans of intensifying the blockades after failure of talks with the Manipur government. The SHDDC would intensify the ongoing economic blockades on National Highway39(Imphal-Dimapur-Guwahati) and NH 53 (Imphal-Jiribam-Silchar), a committee spokesman said.

Talks between Manipur government and the SHDDC over conversion of Sadar Hills area in Senapati district into a full-fledged revenue district failed. The government did not agree to their demand because it had set up a district reorganisation committee headed by Chief Secretary D S Poonia to study the boundaries of all the districts, official sources said.

While the government wanted the SHDDC to wait for six months to discuss the issue, the committee wanted immediate conversion of Sadar Hills into a full-fledged revenue district during the talks held at Chief Minister O Ibobi Singh`s office yesterday.

While SHDDC had launched the economic blockades on Manipur portions of the two highways since August 1 last, the United Naga Council (UNC) opposing the SHDDC demand launched economic blockades on the same national highways since August 21 last. The SHDDC spokesman said the government was "buying time" to delay their demand because the next Manipur Assembly elections are due in February next year.

According to the sources, Kuki-majority Sadar Hills area in Naga-majority Senapati district is a problem because in early 1990s over 1000 persons were killed in ethnic clashes between Nagas and Kukis as Nagas wanted to drive out Kukis from Naga-settled areas of all the hill districts.

Because of the economic blockades, prices of essential items have gone up with petrol selling at Rs 120 per litre in the black market, cooking gas (LPG) per cylinder at Rs 1650 and diesel at Rs 75 per litre. Prices of other essential commodities have also gone up. The sources said efforts were being made to bring all items from outside the state with security escort. So far four persons, including a driver have died in blockade-related incidents and 7 trucks have been set ablaze.

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