Manipuris heaved a sigh of relief today after a highway blockade that has caused a dearth of many essential items for almost four months was lifted, ahead of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's December 3 visit.
Fruits and vegetables, cooking gas, petrol and even medicines have been in short supply since national highways 39 and 53-the economic lifelines of the state-became victims of a political row over the demand to convert the Sadar Hills area into a district.
The Sadar Hills Districthood Demand Committee (SHDDC), which wants the Kuki tribe-dominated area to become a separate district, blocked the two highways on July 31 to press its demand.
Three weeks later, the United Naga Council (UNC), which opposes the demand, began a "counter-blockade" of the highways.
The SHDDC lifted its blockade on the 92nd day after the state government agreed to create a separate district. The UNC has now relented as well.
"We have decided to temporarily lift the blockade on two national highways from 6 am on Tuesday," UNC president Loli Adani said at a public meeting in the Naga-dominated Tamenglong district of Manipur.
The group said it was withdrawing the blockade "giving due to regard to the assurance given by P Chidambaram (Union home minister) on November 22".
Last week, Chidambaram had appealed to the UNC to lift the blockade after a meeting in New Delhi. He had also assured the group that the state government won't be allowed to take a unilateral decision on the issue without consulting the Nagas.
The UNC, however, warned that it would resume the blockade if authorities "failed to translate the assurance into action".