December 22nd, 2016
The Centre has sent around 4,000 paramilitary personnel to Manipur to tackle the hostile situation following economic blockade on National Highways that connect the state. Around 1,500 paramilitary personnel have been deployed in Manipur in the last two days, while more than 2,500 paramilitaries were deployed in the last week.
The turmoil escalated after protesters attacked hundreds of Nagas travelling to their villages for Christmas on December 18. They torched 22 passenger vehicles on the Imphal-Ukhrul road. A curfew was imposed in Imphal West district.
The Issue That Is Brewing the economic blockade
There has been a heavy contention between United Naga Council (UNC), an organisation of the Nagas in Manipur and the Manipur government. The UNC and the other Naga groups don’t want the Naga villages to be a part of the state and want to stay excluded. They have been saying that there are several Naga villages in Sardar Hills region and these should be excluded from the state while there are activists in Jiribam, a subdivision of Imphal East district, who are protesting against the government failure to create the new Jiribam district. The UNC has imposed a blockade on the assumption that Sardar hills and Jiribam subdivisions will be upgraded into districts. They have also announced that they will intensify the blockade as Manipur government may fulfil the demands of people for upgrading the two subdivisions into full-fledged districts.
The chief minister of Nagaland T.R. Zeliang has sought the Central as well as Manipur government’s intervention in securing the lives and property of Naga people in Imphal valley of Manipur. He wrote letters to them sharing the plight of Nagas stranded in Imphal valley and said that they are being prevented from going to their villages.
The UNC on November 1 called for an indefinite economic blockade along two national highways. They blocked the transport of essential goods due to which all the prices shot up exponentially.
On November 25, two of the top leaders of UNC were arrested for violent protests.
The chief minister of Manipur Okram Ibobi Singh on December 9 announced the creation of five new districts. It led to the agitation by the Nagas. The Naga militants set fires to trucks and burnt down two government offices.
In retaliation to the UNC blockade, people in Manipur imposed a counter-blockade. They prevented vehicles carrying essential goods from moving to the four Naga-dominated hill districts from Imphal valley.
On December 17, National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN) IM cadres attacked 9 IRB Post and 6 Manipur Rifles post at Nungkao. The Manipur Baptist Convention Centre Church was also vandalised the same day.
The situation grew more hostile the next day on December 18 when vehicles carrying Nagas were attacked.