Two Month Blockade Set to End in India
A two month blockade is set to end within a matter of days, according to a government Indian official. More than 2 million people have been without food, fuel and medicine since the economic blockade started on April 11th, blocking the only two major highways in and out of Manipur.
“…funded mainly through drug trafficking via Myanmar. The group has been accused of extortion, bank robberies and other criminal practices.”
Manipur is a state in the far north-eastern tip of India, bordered to the north by Nagaland, a mountainous region that relies mostly on agriculture. The blockade is the design of Thuingaleng Muivah, the General Secretary of rebel group National Socialist Council of Nagaland.
Thuingaleng Muivah spurred the All Naga Student’s Association of Manipur, among other groups, to enforce and economic blockade opposing local body elections that he alleges will suppress their tribal rights.
Muivah’s group, the National Socialist Council of Nagaland in essence is a separatist group, catering to the tribes in the northern most part of India, with the hopes of an autonomous Nagaland, separate from the Indian government.
Muivah runs his group remotely from Thailand. They are funded mainly through drug trafficking via Myanmar. The group has also been accused of extortion, bank robberies and other criminal practices. They also use methods of taxation, or rather, extortion, over regions they dominate.
Knowing that early elections might loosen his grip on the area, the 75 year old Muivah attempted to return to his home town in that north eastern part of Nndia. When the state blocked the return of a known separatist and drug trafficker, Muivah was able to stir several groups into a fervor, calling for stoppage of all Manipur bound trucks. With these roads the only way in or out of the landlocked region, the people began to run out of food. Hospitals stopped performing surgeries. Restlessness grew.
The tribes in the north of India have always enjoyed some level of autonomy and self-rule. This, however, has also led to restlessness and protests over government economic decisions that aide New Delhi and other major cities more than the tribes to the north.
“He was requesting us again and again to consider our decision of continuing the blockade. We have also assured him of that we will see whatever we can” – Member of Naga Student Federation
A member of the Naga Student Federation, in light of perhaps ceasing the blockade they are imposing, speaks:
“Prime Minister has heard us patiently. We have also explained to him in detail that it is not the Nagas who have started the issue in the first place and it is the government of Manipur and .. who started the issue and therefore the issue needs to be resolved by themselves not by the Nagas. But however the Prime Minister was very compassionate to listen to us for almost 45 minutes. He was requesting us again and again to consider our decision of continuing the blockade. We have also assured him of that we will see whatever we can and we will console our friends who are at home,”
One cannot help but draw parallels with the situation in Gaza, as a people are made to suffer for one man or organization’s idea of ‘greater good’ Thuingaleng Muivah is a man driven by greed and cares nothing for the people. As the blockade continues, the people of Manipur are the unfortunate victims of one man’s selfish vision.