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    Convince UNC leaders to withdraw economic blockade: Rajnath

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    Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh has asked the Nagaland Chief Minister T.R. Zeliang to convince the United Naga Council (UNC) leaders to withdraw the economic blockade in Manipur.

    “In an effort to ease up the ongoing imbroglio in Manipur between the people of the Hill districts headed by the United Naga Council and the Government of Manipur, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh today (Wednesday) told T.R. Zeliang to talk to the Naga leaders in Manipur to solve the matter amicably and at the earliest,” said a statement from the Nagaland Government.

    The meeting was also attended by the Manipur Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh.

    Nagaland Government said that Singh has told Zeliang to convince the Naga leaders in Manipur to call off their blockade and come to some sort of understanding with the Government of Manipur.

    According to the Nagaland Government, Zeliang has also sought the tripartite meeting between Manipur government, UNC leaders and Central government to be either held at Senapati in Manipur or in New Delhi.

    However, the demand by Zeliang was opposed by Manipur CM who sought the meeting to be held in Imphal.

    Tension has been simmering in Manipur due to an economic blockade called by the UNC in the state, which has existed almost for three months now over the creation of a new district in Manipur carving the naga inhabited areas. National Highways 37 and 2 have been badly affected due to the blockade.

    Election Commission has set March 4 and 8 for the state assembly polls.

    Although the blockade started on November 1 when the state government was planning to create new districts by bifurcating the existing Naga-dominated areas, it intensified after the government ignored the agitation and went ahead to declare Jirbam as a full-fledged district.

    The state government also created new districts of Kangpokpi, Tengoupal, Pharzol, Kakching, Noney and Kamjongin.

    According to the UNC, the creation of new districts out of Naga territory without their consent is a deliberate act to suppress the rights of Nagas in the state.

    In December last year, Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju said the Central government will extend all assistance to restore normalcy in the state.

    Apart from sending 150 companies of para-military forces to Manipur when the blockade started, the Central government also sent seven additional companies of para-military forces, a step condemned by the Nationalist Socialist Council of Nagalim-Isak-Muivah(NSCN-IM).

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