An Inhuman Blockade
For two long months now, the United ga Council (UNC) has imposed on Manipur a road blockade preventing essential supplies from reaching the State. The indefinite economic blockade has been imposed along tiol Highway 2 (the Imphal-Dimapur road) and along tiol Highway 37 (the Imphal-Jiribam road) against the bifurcation of ga-inhabited areas of Manipur while creating new districts. There are quite a few things wrong about any economic blockades anywhere since they cause untold suffering to thousands of innocent people by depriving them of essential commodities needed to sustain life. No one has the right to impose a total deprivation of essential commodities (including medicines) to the needy, and the government concerned has the right to remove such blockades by force because they violate not just the Constitution but the very fundamentals of the human rights of people, including the right to life. And this was a blockade that prevented over 600 trucks carrying essential supplies from reaching their destitions. And what was the blockade in aid of? It was imposed in order to prevent ga-inhabited areas of Manipur from being bifurcated. The United ga Council should realize that its demand involves the administrative imperatives of another State inhabited by gas in certain areas, but not ruled by the gas. Imposing a blockade on a neighbouring State (merely because the gas are in a position to do so) constitutes a total disregard for what is legal or ratiol in such matters. During his visit to Imphal last month, Union Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju declared the blockade as illegal since it had created a humanitarian crisis. He has kept his promise of extending all possible help from the Centre to the State government to reopen the blocked highways. There are many States in India where the inhabitants of a neighbouring State constitute a sizeable percentage of the population. But this cannot be reason enough for such groups to make irratiol demands on what the demarcation of the borders of new districts shall be. This is an administrative issue that must be left to the discretion and convenience of the government of the State concerned. The utmost that minority population groups can do in such situations is to make a polite request to the State government to consider the possibility of acceding to their request not to bifurcate the areas inhabited by them. There can be no room for inhuman blockades that can have disastrous consequences on the lives of innocent citizens. In the case of the UNC’s blockade of the highways leading to towns in Manipur, the illegal activities have gone on for two months and have involved hundreds of trucks carrying essential supplies.
In an attempt to reopen blocked routes, the Okram Ibobi Singh government of Manipur has had deploy irratiolly large Central forces along Manipur’s supply lines to provide security to supply trucks. The Union Home Ministry has had to provide 59 companies of security forces to deal with the situation. Of these, 37 companies are being sent as an additiol force to deal with the blockade. As many as 21 companies were already deployed in the State for interl security. These forces too have had to be used for highway protection.
According to recent reports, more than 600 trucks were safely escorted from Jiribam to Imphal last Friday. There have also been assurances of fresh supplies coming to Manipur in the next few days. This is good news, but it does not answer the question as to why the Union Home Ministry has to let such blockades work havoc with the lives of people for two long months. It is certainly not too much to expect that action against such disruptive blockades should be initiated within a week—regardless of the force that is needed to deal with such illegal activities. Allowing such blockades to operate for two months creates the wrong kind of impressions in the minds of people about the abilities and intentions of the Home Ministry.