| Block aid |
New Delhi, Dec. 14: The Supreme Court today expressed concern over the blockade of two national highways going to Manipur, denying the land-locked state necessary food and fuel supplies.
First, the Kukis and later the Nagas blocked National Highways 39 and 53.
The blockade entered its 105th day on November 15.
A PIL has been filed against this continuous blockade by former Nagaland top cop Prakash Singh.
Singh, through counsel Prashant Bhushan, argued that the economic blockade had curtailed the right of the people of Manipur to move freely throughout the territory of the country as guaranteed by the Constitution.
Any agitation that results in destruction of public property or blockade of roads, rails and others is clearly illegal, his petition said. The central and state governments, it said, had failed to deal with this, causing immense misery to the people.
Tracing the history of blockades, the petition said the Nagas had held up the two highways for 68 days from April 11 to June 18, 2010.
The blockade was started to protest the state decision to hold autonomous district council polls, despite opposition from Naga groups. It intensified when the state banned the entry of NSCN (I-M) leader Thuingaleng Muivahs entry into the state.
From August 1, 2011, the Kukis held up the highways demanding that the state convert the Kuki majority Sadar Hills area of Senapati district into a full-fledged district.
The Kukis lifted the blockade on November 1. However, the Naga counter-blockade, sponsored by the United Naga Council, a front organisation of the NSCN (I-M) that begun on August 21, still continues, it said.
The petition said Singh had spoken to minister of state (home) of Manipur and given a representation against the blockade, but to no avail. Singh said these political issues could be resolved at the political level by the parties but the blockades were causing immense stress for the common Manipuris.
Solicitor general R. Nariman, suggesting a way out, said the high court could, whenever it comes to its notice, direct the state DGP to lift the blockade within 12 hours. If not, central forces could be requisitioned to restore public order within 24 hours, he said.
The district collector could also record any financial loss caused by such blockades and recover them as land arrears from the organisers, he suggested. The bench was, however, sceptical.
How often has the prevention of Damage to Public Property Act, 1984, (which provides for recovering any damage caused by rasta or rail rokos) been used, Justices G.S. Singhvi and S.J. Mukhopadhyay wondered. The bench, while issuing notices to the Union government on the PIL, sought information on this.