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Highway bandh to affect supplies

Imphal, Dec. 12: A 48-hour strike called by the United Naga Council on the Imphal-Jiribam highway from midnight tonight is likely to affect supply of essential commodities to Manipur for two days.

The highway is one of the two main supply routes into the state.

The council, apex body of the Nagas living in Manipur, has called the strike to protest against a statement attributed to the joint secretary (Northeast) in the Union home ministry, Shambhu Singh, which came out in an Imphal daily a few days back. Singh was quoted as saying that the demand for an alternative administrative arrangement for Nagas living in Manipur was “quite hazy”.

“We cannot accept such statements made by a government official and have been compelled to register our strong resentment,” the council said in a statement. It said the strike was their first phase of protest against Singh’s statement.

The strike call came after the council threatened on December 6 to ban all national projects being carried out in Manipur like construction of railway tracks and power lines, if the Centre failed to initiate steps within a week to convene the next round of talks on its demand for an alternative administrative arrangement outside the purview of the state government.

The council and representatives of the central and state governments have had six rounds of talks on the demand, the last round being held in New Delhi on August 30.

The statement also comes at a time when the council has been pushing for the next round of talks. “Instead of facilitating a sense of direction in the democratic process of dialogue, Singh, who represents the government of India, is creating confusion for reasons best known to himself,” the UNC said.