Nagas take out a rally at Senapati district headquarters. Telegraph picture
Senapati, Aug. 19: Manipur chief minister Okram Ibobi Singh will meet Union home minister P. Chidambaram in Delhi tomorrow morning to discuss the demand for granting district status to Sadar Hills, while Nagas plunged into zealous protests today in the four hill districts against the move.
Manipur has been living in turmoil, torn between the contradictory demands of the Sadar Hills people pushing for a decision to turn the subdivision into a district and that of the Naga residents who are refusing to accept the bifurcation of Naga areas without their consent.
Nagas took out simultaneous rallies in four hill districts of Ukhrul, Senapati, Tamenglong and Chandel against creation of the district, refusing to allow any vehicle into the rally zone.
Shops, too, remained closed as leaders of the United Naga Council, the All Naga Students Association, Manipur and the Naga Peoples Organisation, Senapati, announced their stands.
The Nagas also opposed inclusion of Naga villages in upgrade of Jiribam sub-division of Imphal East to a district, a demand they renewed recently.
We will not accept further division of Nagas land without consulting us, S.K. Milan, UNC speaker said during the Senapati rally.
The UNC is the apex body of Nagas in Manipur.
We will agitate and may even call bandhs. We will not rest until the district issue is settled, said M.L. Markson, president of the Naga Peoples Organisation.
The Sadar Hills District Demand Committee, on the other hand, intensified its agitation.
Fourteen district supporters have been on a fast-unto-death for the past four days.
Their health deteriorated further today, doctors said.
The supporters continued to lay siege to Sadar Hills stretch of Imphal-Dimapur Highway, which they been blocking since July 31.
The state has been reeling under the impact of the strike, struggling with shortage of essential supplies.
The shortage pushed up prices of vegetables and other edibles. Health services, too, have been affected.
While authorities of the Regional Institute of Medical Sciences and Jawaharlal Nehru Institute of Medical Sciences, both based in Imphal, reported low stocks of oxygen, drug dealers said the state would face scarcity of medicines if the supply lines were not restored soon.
While a group agitates in the state, a 36-member delegation of the Sadar Hills District Demand Committee, comprising MLAs and councillors of Sadar Hills, are camping in Delhi. They met President Pratibha Patil and Chidambaram and submitted a memorandum.
Another round of meetings will be held again in the next few days with the Union home minister, said Thangminlien Kipgen, chairman of the Hill Areas Committee, Manipur.
The Nagas protesting in Manipur, on the other hand, charged the government with issuing arrest warrants against the UNC and ANSAM leaders for imposing blockades while it remained silent over the 19-day bandh imposed by people supporting the Sadar Hills Districthood Demand Committee.
The government is pitting one community against another. The Ibobi Singh government mounted a crackdown on Naga rallies. But the same government is doing nothing about the Sadar Hills bandh, former UNC president Paul Leo said.
The Nagas demand that the government should honour four MoUs/agreements signed between Naga organisations and state governments between 1981 and 1998 to the effect that the Sadar Hills issue should be settled through a consensus for lasting peace between Nagas and Kukis.