100 trucks with supplies to reach Manipur Saturday

Imphal, June 17 (IANS) A convoy of about 100 trucks carrying essentials will roll into Manipur Saturday, where a road blockade has cut off food and medical supplies for more than two months, officials Thursday said.

‘We expect the first convoy with food, medicines and fuel to arrive in Manipur by Saturday evening if everything goes according to plans,’ Manipur government spokesman and senior minister N. Biren Singh told IANS.

The trucks would be escorted by the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) and Border Security Force (BSF)along the two national highways 39 and 53 linking Manipur with the rest of India.

‘Some 20 companies of paramilitary forces would be deployed for escorting the convoys into Manipur,’ the minister said.

The modalities for opening the supply routes was taken at a meeting between Home Secretary G.K. Pillai and top civil officials of Manipur and adjoining Nagaland in New Delhi Wednesday.

‘We are hopeful of the siege coming to an end by Saturday unless something untoward happens,’ the minister said.

The apex tribal body that enforced the indefinite economic blockade, the Naga Students Federation (NSF), Tuesday lifted the blockade, although some splinter groups are still continuing with their agitation.

Several Naga groups had blocked highways into the state, which borders Myanmar, to protest against a Manipur government ban on separatist leader Thuingaleng Muivah from visiting his birthplace in Manipur.

The blockade began April 11 and has led to severe shortages of food and medical supplies, leading to soaring prices.

With food stocks and hospital supplies running low, residents, medical staff and businesses were waiting impatiently for the vital supply routes to reopen and for trade to resume.

‘We are waiting anxiously for food to come in soon as prices of all essentials have shot up at least 10-15 times,’ said housewife Anuradha Devi in the Manipur capital Imphal.

The state government banned Muivah’s trip to his home village, saying it could stoke unrest. On May 6, up to six tribal protesters are said to have been killed and 70 injured during demonstrations over the ban.

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