With the Centre threatening to send more security forces, the agitating Naga students tonight decided to temporarily suspend the more than month-long blockade of a national highway to Manipur, the economic lifeline of the northeastern state.
The decision by Naga Students' Federation (NSF) taken at a meeting in Kohima this evening, came after its delegation met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in New Delhi discussing their demands.
An NSF release issued in Kohima said it was temporarily suspending the blockade, imposed since May 4, of NH 39 and NH 53 linking Manipur, responding to appeals by various individuals and organisations including the Prime Minister.
"We had a very good meeting with the Prime Minister and submitted our representation. He listened to us and assured us an early solution to the ongoing problem. He asked the young students of the state to create a peaceful atmosphere and resolve the issue," Achumbemo Kikon, Advisor of NSF told reporters in Delhi.
The Naga leader, who was the part of a five-member delegation led by NSF, said he was impressed by the PM's assurance.
However, Kikon said the agitation would be resumed if Manipur fails to address NSF demands including withdrawal of commandos, other issues.
Earlier in the day, Union Home Secretary G K Pillai said the Centre has decided to send more security forces to remove the blockade of the national highways that form the vital supply line to Manipur.
The Home Ministry has decided to send 16 companies (about 1,600 personnel) of central paramilitary forces to assist Manipur government to clear the blockade on the highways.
Besides, six companies (600 jawans) are also being sent to Nagaland.
Pillai said the chief secretaries of Nagaland and Manipur will meet here on Wednesday to review the situation there.
The economic blockade has pushed Manipur on the verge of a breakdown with stocks of all essentials commodities, including baby food and life saving drugs, almost drying up.
The All Naga Students' Association (ANSAM) had launched the blockade to protest the holding of elections to six autonomous district councils in the Hills which, it alleged, were given not enough power to carry out development works.
The blockade of National Highway 39 (Imphal-Dimapur) and 53 (Imphal-Silchar), passing through Nagaland and connecting Manipur, was intensified after Manipur refused entry to NSCN-IM general secretary T Muivah on May 3 to visit his ancestral home there.