Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Manipur seeks Christian help to end blockade

The Manipur state government has sought the help of Christian leaders to end a month-old road blockade that has cut off supplies of food, medicine and other essentials to this eastern Indian state.
Naga tribal groups in Manipur and neighboring Nagaland state have since April 11 blocked two national highways to land-locked Manipur.
The government on May 17 sent a nine-member delegation of the All Manipur Christian Organization, an ecumenical body in Manipur, to Nagaland to discuss with Naga groups to find a way out of the impasse.
The economic blockade was to protest Manipur state’s refusal to allow Naga separatist leader Thuingaleng Muivah to visit his birthplace there.
Muivah is among leaders demanding a greater Naga homeland comprising Nagaland and parts of Manipur where Naga people live. Manipur state reportedly fears the visit would inflame Naga passions as the leader plans to address several meetings.
Manipur government spokesperson N. Biren Singh said the Church delegation is expected to appeal to the All Naga Students Association and the United Naga Council to call off the indefinite blockade.
Manipur Chief Minster Ibobi Singh is “hoping that the Church leaders” in Manipur and Nagaland will be able to convince Naga leaders to lift the economic blockade, he said.
The lack of essential commodities has pushed the state to a crisis. Hospitals have suspended surgeries for want of oxygen cylinders and offices have been shut as there is now no fuel for transportation.
Bishop Dominic Lumon, who is based in the Manipur capital Imphal, has asked parishes to conduct prayers for peace. Father Tomy Orumpakat, vicar general of Imphal diocese pointed out that “at this moment only prayer can move hearts.”
Christians form about 80 percent of Nagaland’s some 2 million people, and 34 percent of Manipur’s 2.1 million people.

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