Explained: Why is Manipur burning, again

It has been over a month but Naga groups have continued their blockade in the state

Curfew has been imposed and mobile internet services have been snapped at various places in Manipur in the wake of increased turmoil in the state. The Cabinet took the decision after analysing the prevailing law and order situation in the state. At least 22 cars, buses, and other vehicles were torched in some places near Imphal on Sunday.

But what has led to this situation of heightened tensions?

The United Naga Council (UNC) has been protesting against Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh government’s move to upgrade Sadar Hills and Jiribam to full-fledged districts. In an agitation launched on November 1, the UNC announced an indefinite economic blockade on the Imphal-Dimapur (NH 2) and Imphal-Jiribam (NH 37) highway.

Over a month has passed but the state is still reeling under the impact of the blockade with supplies of essential commodities having been cut off in the state. Owing to the shortage, fuel prices have tripled in the last one month.

The economic blockade by the Naga groups are in response to the state government’s decision to carve out seven new districts in the state. The main reason for the agitation is that it claims that the creation of new districts in the Naga-dominated areas will encroach upon their ancestral land.

Quelling the rumours, the CM has said that the step is being taken to maintain law and order in the state. “Manipur will now have 16 districts and the decision for formation of 7 new districts was taken for administrative convenience and to enable the state government to take up development works effectively even in the remote and underdeveloped parts of the state.

Tension in the state heightened after suspected militant attacks on Manipur Police and other state forces in the last few days. Three policemen have lost their lives and 14 others have been injured in these attacks. The attack was followed by triple bomb blasts at Nagaram in Imphal West district allegedly by Manipur Naga People’s Front on Friday.

Suspected militants also took over an Indian Reserve Battalion (IRB) outpost at Nungkao area in Tamenglong district and fled with their service weapons.