Out of sight, out of mind (Our Take, June 10), not only are many statements in the editorial inaccurate, they also reflect an extreme prejudice against the central government. The decision to hold elections to the Autonomous District Councils was a decision taken by the Government of Manipur, in accordance with its constitutional and statutory obligations.
No elections had been held for 20 years. Groups that opposed the elections did so for various reasons. At the same time, there were other groups that welcomed the elections; candidates filed nominations; voters turned out to vote despite threats; polling was very high in three districts; and the participation was average to unsatisfactory in the remaining three districts. Hence, the decision to hold elections had mixed outcomes, and the decision cannot be condemned outright as a “felony”.
As regards the allegation that the Centre unilaterally allowed Thuignaleng Muivah to visit Manipur, the facts have been stated on more than one occasion, but your editorial has deliberately ignored the facts.
On May 15, the home minister issued a statement which, inter alia, said: “In order to set the record straight, I wish to point out that Government of India is holding talks with the NSCN (IM) led by Muivah. Muivah expressed a desire to visit his native village, Somdal, in Ukhrul district, Manipur. He submitted an itinerary through the interlocutor, R.S. Pandey. Muivah was told that his visit can be facilitated in consultation with the Government of Manipur. The Manipur government took the stand that such a visit would not be appropriate at this time.
Efforts were made over several days to find a solution. The chief minister of Manipur was requested to go over to Delhi and he did so on May 6. The finance minister, the defence minister and the home minister held talks with the Manipur CM. However, after his return to Imphal, the CM reiterated the stand of his government that the visit of Muivah to Somdal could not be allowed at this stage.”
Hence, it will be clear that no permission was granted to Muivah by the Centre to visit Manipur and, despite efforts made over ten days, it was not possible to arrive at a mutually acceptable arrangement.
As regards ensuring supplies to Manipur, the following steps have been taken by the Centre and the state government:
a) Two consignments of life-saving drugs reached Imphal on May 18 and additional consignment of life-saving drugs weighing 4 MT was airlifted by IAF aircraft on the same day. Between May 17 and May 23, 492.52 quintals of PDS rice was airlifted from the Food Corporation of India, Guwahati, by the Indian Air Force’s AN 32 aircraft.
b) Transportation of essential commodities via NH-53 escorted by state police has started since May 21. More than 1,000 trucks and tankers with essential commodities such as petroleum products and rice have reached Manipur through this route. An IL-76 aircraft carried 32 kilolitres of kerosene oil on May 21 and 48 kilolitres of High Speed Diesel (HSD) on May 22.
c) Essential commodities are also being transported to Manipur through NH 150 with the assistance of the Mizoram government. Between May 16 and June 7, 180 goods vehicles and 37 POL tankers reached Manipur through this route.
In addition, supplies of essential goods to the Hill Districts of Manipur have been arranged by the district administration and Naga civil society groups. The Government of India has been in touch with the governments of Nagaland and Manipur and steps initiated to have the blockade removed and normalcy returned.
Ravinder Singh, Director, Media and Communication, Ministry of Home Affairs