Naga ban on Manipuri vehicles lifted; tension eases

Imphal, Feb 26 (IANS) In a welcome development on Friday, the Naga Students’ Federation (NSF) has lifted the two-day-old ban on the movement of vehicles of non-tribal Manipuris in all “Naga-inhabited areas”.

This follows an official announcement that five police commandos who allegedly harassed some NSF members on February 14 have been suspended pending a departmental inquiry.

The police personnel allegedly detained the NSF members who were on their way to Ukhrul district to attend the seed sowing festival of the Nagas in Manipur. The NSF members were intercepted at Mantri Pukhri near Imphal.

Reliable sources told IANS that the union home ministry had instructed the Manipur government to initiate necessary steps against the police personnel.

On Thursday, Manipur’s Home Minister Gaikhangam had informed the Assembly that the police commandos neither committed any excesses nor manhandled and detained the NSF members.

The minister implied that since nothing objectionable was done, the police commandos would not be pulled up.

If the NSF members had extended cooperation, the stand-off would not have taken place, he said.

Since the government refused to book the police commandos, the NSF “imposed” the ban from February 24 morning.

Additional Director General of Police C. Doungel sent a copy of the order suspending the police personnel to the NSF in Nagaland and urged it to call off the ban.

The ban was later lifted with the result that stranded trucks and buses could proceed towards Imphal effective Friday afternoon. The vehicle-documents which had been snatched from the drivers have been returned by the NSF activists.

The ban was condemned by all sections on the ground that it will stoke communal tension.

The All Manipur Students’ Union, in a retaliatory move, banned the plying of buses from Nagaland in Imphal.

The ban caused the prices of commodities brought from Assam and other states to go up.

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