Naga students lift 68-day-old Manipur blockade

Naga students yesterday temporarily lifted their 68-day-old blockade of national highways in Manipur, thereby relieving a 2.5-million population from scarcity of fuel and essential commodities.

The action followed a meeting of various Naga social groups in Kohima. The students had also come under pressure after the centre decided to deploy four CRPF companies to clear the blockade and escort trucks into Manipur from today.

According to the Naga organisations, the blockade had been lifted in deference to the requests made by the prime minister, the home minister, leader of the opposition in parliament, student communities in the Northeast and the civil society at large.

"It was also decided that the agitation of the people will be continued in different forms and at different levels till the aspirations of the Naga people are fulfilled," the organisations said in a statement.

The meeting also supported the United Naga Council's (UNC) decision holding the recently-held district council elections in the Naga areas of Manipur as 'null and void'.

"The meeting fully endorsed the decision of the UNC to sever all ties with the Manipur government. To fill the vacuum so created by the severance, the meeting demanded that the centre immediately make alternative arrangement for the Nagas in the present state of Manipur."

The Naga organisations have also demanded that the armed forces be withdrawn from Naga areas of the state, and that section 144 CrPC clamped in the area be revoked.