IMPHAL -- Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Thursday promised more central paramilitary forces to Manipur which has been reeling under an economic blockade since November 1.
Additional forces have already been rushed to Manipur to transport essential commodities from Assam, Rajnath Singh told the 17-member team of the Joint Forum for Peace when its representatives called on the Home Minister on Thursday morning.
The Joint Forum for Peace was formed on December 22, 2016 by 64 civil organisations in the state.
According to Johnson Elangbam, convener of the Forum, the talks were cordial and the Home Minister gave a patient hearing to them. The team also submitted a memorandum on the blockade and how all sections of people are suffering.
Rajnath Singh reportedly told the Forum representatives that he had already asked the National Socialist Council of Nagaland-Isak-Muivah (NSCN-IM) to see that the blockade is lifted.
The Manipur government and other NGOs have been urging the Centre to prevail upon the NSCN(IM) on the issue since peace talks are going on. It is contended that the United Naga Council (UNC) which imposed the blockade is a frontal organisation of the NSCN.
The Forum representatives will also meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi. They are also planning a symbolic sit-in protest in Delhi.
Manipur Chief Secretary O. Nabakishore had extended an invitation to the UNC to take part in the tripartite talks scheduled on January 23 at the Old Secretariat. He assured full protection to the UNC delegates while coming to Imphal.
However, the UNC says that it will not take part in the talks if the venue is in Imphal, Manipur's capital and that they should either be in Senapati district where its office is located or in Delhi.
Describing the Congress government as "communal and anti-tribal", the UNC has been demanding an alternative arrangement for the Nagas in Manipur.
During a 45-minute meeting on Wednesday night, Rajnath Singh reportedly told Manipur Chief Minister Ibobi Singh to end the blockade with the additional paramilitary forces. If not, the centre would be constrained to take action under the constitution.
Several Bharatiya Janata Party activists welcomed this saying that under such an arrangement, the blockade will be lifted and free and fair elections can be held.
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