NEW DELHI – The central government in New Delhi on Monday rushed an additional 4,000 paramilitary personnel to Manipur in its efforts to reopen a national highway which has been blocked for nearly two months by a Naga separatist group.
With this additional deployment, the total number of central security personnel posted in the sensitive northeastern state for assisting the local administration in maintaining law and order has gone up to 17,500.
“Our top priority is now to reopen the National Highway-2 connecting Manipur (to Nagaland). While the other highway (NH-37) is reopened, we want to reopen the NH-2 too as early as possible,” a senior Home Ministry official told the Times of India.
The security personnel were sent to the northeastern state keeping in view the security situation in the wake of violence following the economic blockade imposed by the Union Naga Council (UNC) on the National Highways since November 1.
The UNC has imposed the economic blockade on NH-2 (Imphal-Dimapur) and NH 37 (Imphal-Jiribam) that serve as lifelines for the landlocked Manipur.
In a stern message, the Centre had on Friday told the Manipur government that it can’t escape responsibility for the “humanitarian crisis” arising out of the 52-day economic blockade by the separatist group and must work to end it, while making it clear that nobody will be allowed to take political advantage out of it.
The rebels in Nagaland state have been demanding an independent homeland for two million Naga tribes people. The group, in India’s north-east, have been fighting for more than 60 years.
Last year, India’s government signed a peace deal with a leading Naga separatist group, bringing to an end one of the country’s oldest insurgencies. Prime Minister Narendra Modi described the accord between his government and the National Socialist Council of Nagaland as “historic”.
For last two weeks, curfew has been clamped in Imphal East district after a mob torched and vandalised 22 passenger vehicles on the Imphal-Ukhrul road, while curfew in Imphal West district was imposed from evening to dawn.
The Naga mainly live in Nagaland and also in the states of Manipur, Assam and Arunachal Pradesh.