INDIA: Manipur at the verge of complete breakdown 

The ongoing economic blockade enforced by All Naga Student Association Manipur (ANSAM) and others in the Indian state of Manipur since 11 April 2010 has pushed the people in the state to the verge of existence. The state-wide strike organised by the ANSAM blocking roads and highways, national highway 39 and 53, which are the only lifeline of Manipur, has resulted in acute shortage of food, medicine and other essential commodities in the state.

Manipur is a state where ordinary life is marred with extreme forms of violence ranging from abduction to murder committed by state and non-state actors. The strike led by the ANSAM has added further miseries to the people’s lives. In remote hill districts like Tamenglong, even the government food storage facilities are empty since the past few weeks. In Imphal, the capital city, the government and private hospitals have closed down emergency services. Within the next few days they will be unable to maintain its life support systems due to shortage of essential supplies including medicines and nasal cannula oxygen.

The price of food grains and other household supplies like rice, kerosene and cooking gas have escalated to such a level that the ordinary people cannot afford to buy household provisions anymore. Vehicle, including the inter-state and inter-district transport, are off the road as the fuel stations closed since weeks.

The strike is in protest against the state government’s notification for holding elections to the autonomous hill district councils in Manipur under the Manipur (Hill Areas) District Council (3rd Amendment) Act, 2008. Additionally, the state government issued another notification for the first phase of the Autonomous District Council (ADC) elections in Manipur on 26 April 2010. After this, the organisations declared the initial strike to be extended for an indefinite period.

Some Naga organsations consider the ADC election as a threat to their claim for ‘Greater Nagaland’, also known as ‘Nagalim’ a separate independent status within India merging neighbouring states into one entity.

In the midst of this tension, the NSCN-IM General Secretary, Mr. Th. Muivah was granted permission to visit to the Manipur by the Union Government against the strong opposition of the Government of Manipur. The opposition is on the ground that the visit would further escalate prevailing tensions between communities.

The state administration increased security deployment in the border town of Mao to stop Muivah from entering Manipur. In a resultant scuffle, two protestors supporting Muivah’s visit were shot dead and a group of 80 men and women were injured and hospitalised in the police action. This triggered off further protest and arson in some hill districts. Naga Students’ Federation (NSF) and other Naga groups of Nagaland are extending support to these protestors.

The situation in the state is extremely volatile and with the slightest provocation, an internal conflict may breakout. If this happens it could spread to a large area and destabilise the whole region. So far, neither the state nor the Union Government has taken any action to prevent the impending danger.

Analysts view the inaction of the Government, adopting a wait and watch strategy to the plight of the civilians and the use of brutal force against the protestors deliberate to sharpen ethnic divide and foment civil strife.

A group of civil society organisations have sent a letter to the Prime Minister of India calling for an immediate intervention in the situation. The letter is reproduced below. Those who wish to support the letter may send a concern letter to the Prime Minister in the address provided below.

Open Letter:

Dr. Manmohan Singh
Prime Minister
7 Race Course Road,
New Delhi 110001, INDIA
Fax: +91-11-23015603/23019545/23016857/23014255

Dear Sir,

SUB: Appeal for Urgent Action To Diffuse Situation In The Border Areas Of Manipur And Nagaland, Following Firing On Unarmed Citizens Causing Several Casualties And Injuries.

We write to you with deep concern about the events as they are emerging in the border areas of Manipur and Nagaland, resulting from the proposed visit of the NSCN-IM leader, Mr. Th. Muivah to his hometown as agreed upon by the Union Government but contested by the Government of Manipur.

Instead of acting to help diffuse the situation, the state has responded by heightening its military response. Such action by the state has inevitably increased aggression from all sides and generated panic and insecurity among people of different communities in the region.

Not surprisingly, the situation has now deteriorated sharply, with the armed forces firing upon unarmed protestors in and around Mao village, resulting in three deaths and around 80 men and women hospitalised with injuries. Additionally, there are disturbing reports of other forms of repression of the local population by the forces.

We condemn such a response from the state and urge you to act immediately in order to bring the situation under control and restore normalcy to the region.


1. Angela Ralte, Mizoram
2. Anthony Debbarma, Borok People’s Human Rights Organisation, Agartala
3. Babloo Loitongbam, Human Rights Alert, Imphal
4. Bamang Tago, Arunachal Citizens Rights (ACR), Itanagar
5. Bondita Acharya, Purva Bharti Trust, Jorhat
6. Borok Women Forum, Agartala
7. D.Vari, Hmar Women Association
8. Fr. Santiago, Director North East Diocesan Social Forum, Gauhati
9. Grace Shatsang, Naga Women’s Union Manipur, Senapati
10. Hechin Haokip, CWG, Chandel
11. Helam Haokip, IRMA, Senapati
12. Jarjum Ete, Ex-Chairperson State Women Commission, Arunachal Pradesh
13. Lalam Mate, President, All Tribal Women Organisation, Chandel
14. Leimatombi, FAC, Bishenpu
15. Mary Beth Sanate, Rural Women’s Upliftment Society, Churachandpur
16. Mhon Kikon, Dice Foundation, Dimapur
17. Nazma Begum, OFT, Thoubal
18. Nonibala Narengbam, IRDSO, Wangjing
19. North East Network, Guwahati
20. Pramo, FFH, Thoubal
21. Rebati, ARDWE, Bishenpur
22. Rose Mangshi Haokip, Kuki Women Union Manipur
23. Shanghaidar Tontang, Weaker Section’s Development Council, Chandel
24. Shiluinla Jamir,Nagaland
25. Suhas Chakma, Asian Center for Human Rights (ACHR)
26. Tamphasana, NEPSC, Imphal West
27. Asian Human Rights Commission – Hong Kong (AHRC)

To support this case, please click here: SEND APPEAL LETTER


Document Type : Forwarded Statement
Document ID : AHRC-FST-034-2010
Countries : India,
Issues : Democracy, Right to food,