| Manipur deputy chief minister Gaikhangam observes Nupi Lal in Imphal on Wednesday. Telegraph picture |
Imphal, Dec. 12: The Manipur government today said it was trying to talk to the Kuki State Demand Committee to roll back its plan to block the Manipur leg of the Asean-India Car Rally 2012.
The car rally is scheduled to start its Manipur leg from the border town of Moreh on Saturday and proceed towards Imphal the same day along National Highway 2 (Imphal-Dimapur-Moreh road).
The committee has announced an indefinite blockade on all the state and national highways from 5pm on Friday to press for its demand for a Kuki state and initiation of political dialogue with Kuki militant groups now in designated camps.
The blockade will effectively stop supply of all commodities as the two national highways of Imphal-Dimapur and Imphal-Jiribam pass through the Kuki-inhabited areas.
The government initiated the step as people started panic buying of essential commodities, particularly petrol and diesel. There were long queues in front of fuel pumps today.
Manipur deputy chief minister Gaikhangam, who is also the home minister, told The Telegraph on the sidelines of a function held to observe Nupi Lal here, “We are trying to hold talks with the demand committee through a minister. The minister will contact the leaders of the committee. We are hoping for a positive response.” He said blocking the car rally would not be the right thing to do, as it would harm Manipur’s image.
However, the committee had yesterday said it would not hold talks with the state government and would end the blockade only when the Centre makes a statement in Parliament announcing start of a political dialogue with the Kuki militant groups.
Earlier, addressing the state function held at Nupi Lal memorial complex, Gaikhangam spoke tough against the culture of blockades and bandhs. “We all are passing through difficult times. The culture of bandh and blockades is holding the entire people of Manipur to ransom. We will not tolerate this. The culture will bring doom to all communities.”
Without mentioning the blockade announced by the committee, he invited to all those having grievances to come to the negotiating table to sort out their problems.
Chief minister Okram Ibobi Singh did not mention the blockade during his address at the function but urged women to help the government solve Manipur’s problems.
Manipur observes Nupi Lal Day every year to pay tribute to the Manipuri women who had waged a war against the then British government for hoarding rice, which had led to an artificial famine in Manipur. The uprising took place on this day in 1939.