130-day Nagas' blockade of Manipur lifted

Arrested UNC leaders set to be released, cases against all Naga leaders to close.

Guwahati: The United Naga Council on Sunday announced the withdrawal of the 130-day-long economic blockade in Manipur with the state’s newly-elected BJP government agreeing to release free UNC leaders unconditionally and closing all cases on the blockade against Naga leaders.

The decision to lift the blockade from Sunday midnight was taken at a tripartite meet with the state government, the United Naga Council (UNC) and the Centre on Sunday at Senapati district headquarters.

In a joint statement, additional chief secretary J. Suresh Babu and UNC general secretary S. Milan said: “The grievances of the UNC that led to the imposition of the economic blockade was recognised at the meeting. The government of Manipur agrees to start consultations with all stakeholders to redress the grievances.”

In the same joint statement, signed by all stakeholders at the meeting, the UNC said it would lift the blockade with immediate effect. “The government of Manipur will unconditionally release arrested UNC leaders and all the cases against Naga tribal leaders and students leaders will also be closed,” it said.

Saying that the next round of tripartite talks would be held in a month’s time at the political level, the UNC also expressed appreciation of the initiative and new approach of the state government to address core issues.

Union home ministry joint secretary Satyendra Garg also attended the meeting. The representatives of All Naga Students Union of Manipur and Naga Women’s Union also attended the tripartite talks on Sunday.

The UNC had imposed the economic blockade since November 1 last year to protest against the creation of seven new districts by the then Congress government in October 2016.

The UNC had opposed the bifurcation of Sadar Hills districts. Soon after taking charge as chief minister last week, Mr N. Biren Singh had promised to fulfil Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s assurance that the ongoing economic blockade would be lifted soon.

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