Highway blockade, note ban take the sheen off Christmas in Manipur

Sunday, 25 December 2016

Christmas should be a time to rejoice. But for Joseph, a Manipuri youth posted in Rajasthan’s Jaisalmer with the Border Security Force, the celebrations this year brought stress.“I was planning to take a train from Delhi to Dimapur and then a bus from there till my home in Chandel district. But I had to take two flights to reach Imphal due to the blockade of highways in Manipur,” he said.
This is the first time that Joseph, who belongs to the Zou community, is returning home since joining the BSF last year.

The blockade of highways by the United Naga Council (UNC) since November 1 in protest against the creation of new districts has crippled the northeastern state.

There is scarcity of essential goods, especially petroleum products, prices have increased, and attacks on security personnel coupled with a “counter-blockade” by those opposed to the UNC’s tactics have added to the grim scenario.

The blockade, the after-effects of demonetisation and the threat of possible violence have forced many churches in Imphal Valley to cut down on their Christmas celebrations this year. “Because of the present situation, we have cancelled our social gathering and Christmas feast this year,” said Ngamlei Zimik, pastor of Tangkhul Baptist Church in Imphal.

Last week, youths from another community asked the church authorities not to go ahead with Christmas celebrations. They relented after it was agreed that only prayers would be offered.

Business establishments, especially bakeries, have also been hit. “There’s a scarcity of raw materials due to the blockade. Our shop is always crowded during Christmas but this year, we have no customers,” said Priya Shimray of Elle’s Cakes and Bakes.