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ANSAM threatens to impose economic blockade on national highway

G Vinayak in Guwahati | July 21, 2005 00:51 IST

The All Naga Students Association of Manipur has threatened to impose an economic blocade on National Highway 53.

The ANSAM had imposed an economic blockade on National Highway 39 in June, pushing Manipur's Imphal valley to the brink of fuel starvation. National Highway 53 was opened on Tuesday as an alternative route linking the state capital Imphal.

ANSAM spokesman N Chamroy said: "We are prepared to intensify our movement on NH-53, if the government uses force to violate the economic blockade."

The student leader claimed that the government being forced to look for an alternative route was a  moral victory for the 'non-cooperation' movement launched by ANSAM.

Meanwhile, in line with the policy adopted by the state government to open NH-53 and provide a second lifeline to the people of Manipur, about 230 empty trucks left Imphal for Jiribam On Tuesday to fetch goods and essential items.

The trucks, which converged on Kangla Fort, were escorted by a large security contingent that included police commandos and India Reserve Battalion and Manipur Rifles personnel.The convoy would fetch essential commodities from Silchar and other places in Assam.

Officials said a security outpost had been set up for every 14 km stretch of the highway till Jiribam, on the Manipur-Assam border.

These posts are manned by the army, Assam Rifles and CRPF teams.The 222-km-long highway had been virtually abandoned by truckers because of the bad condition of the road and the presence of militants.

The Border Roads Task Force renovated the highway and the army conducted two major operations to flush out militants after the economic blockade on the state's main lifeline, NH 39, necessitated alternative arrangements.

Manipur-bound trucks stranded in Assam have been instructed to take a detour to Jiribam via Silchar instead of the Imphal-Dimapur road, which is the main target of the economic blockade by the All Naga Students' Association of Manipur.

Officials are hopeful that the supply chain will be restored in the next five days.The Naga blockade is in protest against the Ibobi government's decision to observe the anniversary of the 2001 uprising as "state integrity day".

The uprising in the Manipur valley was against the then National Democratic Alliance government's attempt to extend its ceasefire with the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (Isak-Muivah) beyond Nagaland.


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