NEW DELHI, May 13 � Scarcity of essential items in Manipur is likely to ease soon, with the Centre agreeing to come to the rescue of the beleaguered State Government by offering to airlift vital commodities and medical supplies.
Sources said that the Centre�s offer was made during Union Home Secretary, GK Pillai�s visit to Imphal undertaken to resolve the impasse following Manipur Government�s action of banning NSCN (I-M) Th. Muivah�s visit to ancestral village in the State.
The Union Home Secretary, who has since returned to the national capital, has briefed the Union Cabinet about the prevailing situation in the two States. Sources said that it was conveyed that the situation was still tense and all efforts were on to defuse the prevailing tension.
The Centre for now is likely to adopt a wait and watch policy, even as it is going to engage in dialogue with both the Nagaland and Manipur Governments to resolve the crisis, sources said.
As part of the initiative to ease the scarcity of essential food items and medicine supplies, the Centre is going to enlist support of the Indian Air Force to airlift the supplies. On the ground, there were signs of the blockade easing off and efforts have been made to re-route supplies through National Highway 53 via Assam.
The Central Government officials have been holding series of meeting with officials of Food Corporation of India (FCI) and Assam Government to rush essential supplies without any hindrance, sources said.
With the supply line choked because of the blockade in Nagaland, prices of essential commodities including fuel and medicine have sky rocketed in Manipur.
Sources said during the interaction with the Central team that also included Government of India�s interlocutor, R S Pandey, Manipur Government conveyed that precautionary measures were undertaken to prevent any untoward incidents.
But, sources remarked, it proved to be counter productive for Manipur Government. Firing at the Mao Gate by security forces left two dead and scores injured.
Sources said during their visit, Pillai and Pandey held consultations with local people and civil society, besides NSCN (I-M) general secretary.
As a result of assurance by the Central team, the Naga people, who had fled from Manipur to Nagaland, have agreed to return back to their home. Manipur Government too has agreed to lift the restrictions to facilitate return of the Nagas, who had taken shelter in Nagaland.
Manipur Government has also ordered magisterial inquiry into the firing incident. All efforts are on to pacify the Nagas to ensure that they return to their villages, said sources.
The Centre had earlier proposed to replace the State police forces guarding the inter-State border with Central paramilitary forces, as part of the confidence building measures to ease the tension.
Meanwhile, despite requests by the Central team, Muivah has refused to return to Camp Hebron and has expressed his determination to visit his hometown in Manipur. On the other hand, Manipur Government has also reiterated its earlier decision not to allow Muivah to visit Manipur.
Sources said the Central team tried to impress upon the NSCN (I-M) general secretary that in a federal structure, the Centre had limited powers to impose its decisions on the state.
Sources said Muivah was urged to defer his visit to Manipur, as the time was not right. He was requested to leave the border village Viswema and wait for a more opportunate moment, until the Centre sorted out the issue with Manipur Government. The I-M leader has so far not shown any signs of relenting to the Centre�s plea.
Sources said it was also pointed out to Muivah that it was not unusual to debar any one from visiting the State by the administration under a federal structure. There were several such instances of national level leaders, including L K Advani being stopped from visiting certain areas, in the past by the State administration.