Monday, November 29, 1999

Centre hopeful that highway blockade will be lifted by Sunday

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New Delhi, Jun 18 (PTI) The Centre expects the operations on the main highway connecting Manipur, hit by a two-month blockade by Naga groups, to normalise by Sunday with resumption of supply of essential commodities. This was indicated by Home Minister P Chidambaram to CPI(M) leader Basudeb Acharia, who met him here today and raised the issue of the 65-day-old economic blockade of Manipur. Chidambaram told Acharia, who met him along with former CPI(M) MP Nurul Huda, that one of the national highways had already opened after Naga students lifted their blockade. He also expressed the hope that the situation was expected to normalise in a couple of days, according to Acharia. In a memorandum, the CPI(M) leaders asked the Centre to immediately break the blockade to allow free movement of essential commodities, saying no section should be allowed to hold the people to ransom. "We are firmly of the opinion that the government should enforce discipline and break the blockade without a moment''s delay and ensure free flow of all transport," including trucks carrying essential items, he told PTI. The two senior leaders also sought compensation for truck owners whose vehicles were burnt down by the agitators blocking the highways and re-building of three bridges on NH-53 running through the state. "By no means, the illegal activities of students organisations should be tolerated and the writ of the Central government should equally run" in all the Northeastern states, Acharia said. Meanwhile, owners of trucks and buses in Manipur have decided not to operate their vehicles through Nagaland even if the blockade is lifted until the Centre and the government of the neighbouring state compensated them for damage to their vehicles.

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