Blockade in Manipur may be Lifted in Few Days: Pillai

New Delhi
Blockade in Manipur may be Lifted in Few Days: Pillai
With the situation in Manipur improving, the Government today said it was hopeful that the economic blockade in the state would be lifted in the next few days.

Union Home Secretary G K Pillai also said it would have been better if separatist leader Thuingaleng Muivah had gone to visit his home village in Manipur after district-level elections were over.

"The situation has improved. I am hopeful in the next couple of days, the blockade on National Highway 39 would be suspended," Pillai told NDTV.

His comment came at a time when Manipur is facing a severe shortage of food and medicines with supplies of essentials cut off for over two months following protests over Muivah's trip.

Asked if on hindsight he felt Muivah, leader of National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN), could have gone there at a later date, Pillai said, "It is very difficult to say. In hindsight, yes, you could say that it would have been better for Muivah to have possibly gone there after the district elections."

Pillai said the Centre had informed Manipur government about Muivah's travel plan because he had come to India on the invitation of the Government of India for the peace talks.

"I think what we didn't anticipate was the extent of reaction against the visit. We were in close contact with the state government as well as with Muivah to try and find a solution which was acceptable to both," he said.

The Union Home Secretary, who had recently visited Manipur, said he had gone there to review steps that had to be taken.

"There were some steps that were needed to be taken like lifting of curfew, replacement of Manipur police by central paramilitary force and so on....

"But the situation now has improved considerably. The women and their family, the displaced villagers have all come back to the village. And I am hopeful that in the next couple of days, it is likely that the blockade on NH 39 will be suspended," he said.

Asked about the allegation that NSCN (I-M) cadres were violating ceasefire agreements and were getting away with it, Pillai said the cadres are liable to be arrested if they are found outside designated camps with guns.

"The ground rule says that they should stay in designated camps. If they are found outside designated camps, they are liable to be arrested and some of them have been arrested even as far as in Arunachal Pradesh. Some of them have been detained under the NSA," he added.
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