Six Questions You Were Too Embarrassed to Ask about Manipur

All you wanted to know about the Naga economic blockade, the creation of the new districts, and why violence has engulfed the state

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imphal, manipur,
Pouna Bazar Market, Imphal. Credit: Wikimedia/PP Yoonus

The Northeastern state of Manipur has been in a state of chaos the past few days with large-scale protests and rioting reported. On Sunday, protesters set fire to at least 22 vehicles in Imphal East district. Blasts have been reported, a curfew has been imposed, and the state is in turmoil. Bayside Journal brings to you a list of six questions you were too embarrased to ask about Manipur.

1. Why is Manipur protesting?

They are protesting against the creation of seven new districts in the State. The United Naga Council (UNC) imposed a blockade on two key highways on November 1 in protest against the state government’s creation of two new districts — Jiribam and Sadar Hills. This has disrupted the supply of essentials to the state. Some protesters have protested against this blockade by setting fire to vehicles.

2. What is the Naga economic blockade?

On November 1, the UNC imposed an indefinite blockade on two major highways – Imphal-Dimapur (NH2) and Imphal-Jiribam (NH37). They believe that their ancestral Naga land is being taken away and that the move by the majority Meiteis will hamper their interests.

3. How has the Naga economic blockade affected Manipur?

There is a major scarcity of essentials in the state. Petrol prices have gone up almost three-fold and public transport has been severely affected. The few trucks that manage to get in do so only amidst heavy security. The shortage of essential commodities has led to their price rise. This blockade coupled with the effects of demonetisation has led to a shortage of currency supply to the state and has made life for those living in the valley extremely difficult. The NSCN (IM) have alleged that the violence against the Nagas have been sponsored by the Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh.

4. How many districts does Manipur now have?

Manipur now has sixteen districts, up from nine earlier.

5. Why were these districts created?

The newly formed districts are: Kangpokpi, Tengnoupal, Pherzawl, Noney, Kamjong, Jiribam, and Kakching. According to the Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh, the decision was taken “for administrative convenience and to enable the state government take up development works effectively even in the remote and underdeveloped parts of the state”. Manipur will have its state election this year – the creation of these seven new states could be an important factor.

6. What is the current situation in Manipur?

Internet services in West Imphal have been suspended by the government so that communal and hatred-filled messages are not  circulated. There has been an indefinite curfew imposed in Imphal since Saturday evening to monitor law and order.

On Sunday, a mob attacked 21 vehicles ferrying 300 persons to Ukhrul (A Naga populated district). The police had to step in and rescue the passengers.

One of Manipur’s biggest churches – the Manipur Baptist Church in Chingmeirong was attacked by a mob on Saturday and were ordered not to conduct mass on Sunday or celebrate Christmas. As a result, the church was shut on Sunday.

On December 15, three police personnel were killed in attacks believed to have been organised by the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN-IM)

There were three IED blasts in Imphal on Friday. The National Socialist Council of Nagaland (IM) were believed to be the targets.

Police are para-military personnel are closely monitoring the situation.