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Manipuri team appeals to Hazare for help in lifting blockade

Last updated on: October 17, 2011 13:35 IST

Manipuris turn to Anna Hazare for help, but he has no time

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A Ganesh Nadar

Following a Manipuri delegation's appeal Anna Hazare may involve himself in finding a solution to the state's problems, reports A Ganesh Nadar from Pune

It's been 77 days since Manipur has been cut off from the rest of the country. The two national highways and an arterial road that connect the state to the mainland have been blockaded by the Naga and the Kuki tribes over the latter's demand for a separate district.

The result? The rates of essential commodities have sky-rocketed. A cylinder of cooking gas costs Rs 2,000, groceries have disappeared from the market.

With no solution in sight, a team from Manipur has turned to social activist Anna Hazare for help.

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Image: The Manipuri delegation with Anna Hazare
Photographs: A Ganesh Nadar/Rediff.com
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Hazare gives Manipuri team a patient hearing

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Four prominent citizens from the state arrived in Hazare's hometown of Ralegan Siddhi in Maharashtra hoping to convince the social activist to reach out to the warring tribes for a peaceful agreement before Diwali.

Invited by Pune-based non-governmental organisation Sarhad, the delegation -- comprising veteran journalist BB Sharma, Times of India journalist K Sarojkumar Sharma, Guwahati high court advocate Salam Rupachandra Singh and threatre artiste Jeevan A Ninghtou -- wanted Hazare to appeal to the warring tribes to come to the negotiating table.

After giving the delegation a patient hearing, Hazare said, "At the moment, I am concentrating on the Jan Lokpal bill. I am not interested in other problems. But since you have come all the way from there, I will consider the problem before deciding what to do." 

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Photographs: A Ganesh Nadar/Rediff.com
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Kejriwal promises help

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Hazare promised to send member of Team Anna, Arvind Kejriwal, to Manipur to speak to all the two tribes and report back to him.

The persistent Manipuri delegation immediately decided to catch up with Kejriwal, who was on his way to the airport from Ralegan Siddhi.

Kejriwal, who was very happy to help, promised to visit the state before October 24. 

There are 35 tribes in Manipur, each with its own agenda. The warring factions of Kuki and Naga comprise seven lakh people out of the state's total population of 27 lakh.

The Kukis are seeking a separate district, a demand that the Nagas have strongly opposed. As a result, there are two blockades on one highway -- one for a district and another against it.

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Image: The Manipuri delegation
Photographs: A Ganesh Nadar/Rediff.com
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Mohan Dharia too for lifting Manipur blockade

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While the northeast delegation was trying to coax Hazare into taking up their cause, another showdown took place in Pune when central government officials came to meet environmentalist, lawyer and former Union minister, Mohan Dharia.

The Centre has nominated Dharia for this year's National Integration Award. However, the 86-year-old turned down the award.

"How can I accept a prize for national integration when one state remains completely cut off from the rest of the country for almost three months? I will accept the honour after the blockade throttling Manipur has been removed," he told the officials. 

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Image: Mohan Dharia
Photographs: A Ganesh Nadar/Rediff.com
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