It’s been 55 days since National Highway 53 and 39 that connect Manipur with the rest of India have been blocked by Naga student union groups. The state has almost been paralysed, as prices of food, petrol and other essential commodities have shot through the roof.
As the situation worsens, those associated with the cause have now found an unlikely voice. Actress Gul Panag, who has associated herself with several social causes like awareness against female foeticide and drug addiction in the past, has now stepped up and become the first public figure to express her anger against the state of affairs.
“If something similar would have happened to UP or Bihar, there would have been a huge hue and cry about it. It’s very sad that the media is ignoring this issue completely,” she says. “By and large, North Eastern states suffer from the lack of inclusion. It’s clear that the state is failing them, and this apathy towards the states is very disappointing.”
Panag, who has over 78,000 followers on Twitter, spent Monday furiously tweeting about the cause, asking her followers to re-tweet and make the hash-tag, ‘manipur blockade’ trend across the world, so it would attract the attention of the media. She has also publicly tweeted to public figures like Barkha Dutt, Pritish Nandy and Karan Johar asking them to use their ‘star power’ to help in attracting attention towards the cause.”I’m putting them in a spot by publicly asking them for support,” she admits. “Whenever I’ve raised an issue of policy on Twitter, it’s helped. There are many mainstream journalists here, so I’d love to be the catalyst and bring this to their notice.”
“We are giving a chance to people across the border to take advantage of us. If the government fails, at least the people should show empathy,” she adds.