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Imphal: The United Naga Council, an apex Naga body in Manipur, has appealed to the Committee on Tribal Unity (COTU) to immediately lift the economic blockade along the National Highways in the interest of all communities living in the state.

On August 21, the COTU, a tribal body based in Kangpokpi, re-imposed an indefinite economic blockade along NH-2 and NH-37, which are two vital lifelines of Manipur, causing severe disruptions in the transportation of essential items within the state.

National Highway 2 connects Imphal to Dimapur via Kangpokpi district, while National Highway 37 is connected to Silchar, Assam, from Jiribam district in Manipur.

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In a released statement, the UNC also urged an immediate halt to any individuals engaged in unlawful taxation or extortion activities occurring on the National Highways and Inter-District Highways.

According to the UNC, unwarranted checks, frisking, detentions, unloading of essential commodities, and various restrictions are being imposed on Naga people in sporadic areas. Additionally, there is unabated illegal taxation and extortion targeting commuters and suppliers of essential commodities along the National Highways and Inter-District highways.

The UNC’s statement comes in the aftermath of an incident in which a truck driver belonging to the Liangmai Naga community was physically assaulted by suspected Kuki militants on September 5. Reports indicate that the incident occurred when the victim was stopped by miscreants who demanded extortion money, which the driver refused to pay.

The Naga body further urged both the state and central governments to take necessary steps to ensure the uninterrupted supply of essential commodities throughout the state.

The state and central governments must also address the grievances, such as the non-availability of life-saving drugs and essential commodities, faced by the Kuki-Zo community, as demanded by COTU, stated the UNC.

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“Naga people have endured all the hardships and provocations from both communities, and in addition to that, the UNC has been making goodwill efforts towards the resolution of the same. However, it seems otherwise, and even more burden is being placed on the Naga people in various ways,” asserted the UNC.

The UNC hopes that the statement will reach all concerned parties and pave the way for peace to prevail and a return to normalcy, added the Naga body.

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