Manipur Tension: Days of hunger

The common people in the villages are suffering and politics does not fill the stomach. Life has become extremely difficult both in the hills and the valley with curfew and blockades.

ByIFP Bureau

Updated 2 Jun 2023, 12:51 pm



Amid the ongoing ethnic conflict in Manipur, nothing has been discussed about the humanitarian crisis that the common people are facing now. Food and essential commodities, including life-saving drugs, are not only becoming scarce but their prices are also soaring and becoming unaffordable of what little is available in shops and streets across the state.

The situation is even dire in the hill areas dominated by the tribal population which depend on supply lines from the markets in capital Imphal.

No one tries to understand how the supply lines work inside the state while they only look at how one could take advantage of the two national highways.

The Imphal to Dimapur road (NH 2) and Imphal to Jiribam road (NH 37) have always been a rallying point for politics by certain communities dotting both sides of the national highways and a pressure point for raising of all kinds of demands and grievances. The other two national highways seldom come in the limelight.

Manipur, being a land-locked state, highly depends on the highways for ferrying in food and all other goods, including essential items from outside the state, which is why highway blockades have become a bargaining chip for certain groups which have an axe to grind with the state authorities or holding it to ransom for realisation of their demands howsoever petty it be sometimes.

It has resulted in stocking of essential commodities and hiking their prices by shopkeepers and panic buying by the commoners becoming a norm every time there's a crisis in the state of Manipur.

And today, we are in a similar situation - alleged hoarding of essential commodities by shopkeepers and hiking of prices and panic buying by the common people in view of the present situation in the state.


Well now, as the railway line has reached Khongsang in Tamenglong district essential commodities could be brought in by rail. But, the road from the Khongsang railway station to the highway is so steep that it is dangerous for trucks with heavy loads to move up safely. So, till the rail line reaches Imphal, Manipur will continue to suffer from highway blockades for some time.

In the wake of the recent unrest, the Imphal-Dimapur road NH 2 continues to be blocked by some Kuki volunteers in Kangpokpi district. Several goods laden trucks, including those transporting fuel and life-saving drugs, are stranded on the highways mostly in Naga areas. Some trucks and oil tankers have taken the circuitous route on Imphal-Jiribam road, which still remains unreliable as a highway.

Having said this, one needs to understand that Imphal is the axis from which the big traders and wholesalers, who are mostly non-Manipuris, operate and that the goods and essential items reaching Imphal again finds its way to the districts. That is how the distribution network operates in the state of Manipur.

It so happened that due to frequent bandhs and blockades, the godowns of many big traders and wholesalers have moved to Senapati district headquarters, situated along the Imphal-Dimapur road. But again, the moneyman is still based in the capital Imphal. For them, it is pure business where sentiments and political aspirations have little play.

In the days of frequent indefinite bandhs and economic blockades on the highways of Manipur, groups of all hues used to resort to such tactics even at the drop of a hat. While the general population had to face immense hardships and suffer, prices of essential items spiral away to the sky as hoarders reap profit.

One may recall the economic blockade of the 2016-17 when the National Highway-2 of the Imphal-Dimapur Road was blocked for over 100 days, leading to steep spike in prices of essential commodities. A cooking gas cylinder cost as high as Rs 2,000 then in the black market. Petrol in the black market was sold for as much as Rs 250-300 per litre. The prices of other essential commodities more than doubled.

Despite the hike in prices, panic buying continued in the struggle to survive.

If the common folk in the valley suffer so much due to the blockade and stoppage of transportation of essential commodities, what would be the condition in the hills which practically depends on the supply lines from the valley?

Now, apart from the highway blockade in Kangpokpi, as the attacks on the Meitei villages in the foothills by armed Kuki militants continue, angry womenfolk have come out on the streets and resorted to blockade of trucks carrying food and essential items on the highways.

For those staying in the relief camps, the state government machinery is at least providing them with food and essential items.


Consumer Affairs and Public Distribution (CAFPD) commissioner Bobby Waikhom did announce on May 26 that the state has adequate amounts of supply to meet the requirements and the people should avoid panic buying of essential commodities, including petroleum products. Bobby was speaking to the media at Babupara in Imphal.

The ration in Food Corporation of India (FCI) godown, Sangaiprou, has enough quantity to provide two months requirements; Bishnupur has two months; Churachandpur has one and a half months; Ukhrul has six months; Tamenglong has some months; Senapati as eight months and Jiribam has 10 months, he explained further.

In an effort to meet the requirements of the public on essential commodities across the entire state the department has been taking up necessary steps, he said. More quantities of essential commodities items are being imported into the state from the national highways, especially from Imphal-Jiribam road, he added.

The CAFPD official further said that to control the prices of essential commodities and prevent price hike, the department holds meetings every week on Friday on price fixation. If any shop is found selling the essential items by violating the rate fixed by the government, then action will be taken against them, he said.

Any person can contact or make complaints if shops are found selling items at an overpriced rate at the contact number 0385-2455496 for the curfew period, and for curfew relaxation period, the people can contact at +918732060592, he said.

But, life has become extremely difficult both in the hills and the valley amid the continuing unrest, with internet shutdown, imposition of curfew and highway blockades showing no signs of respite. People in the hills now are beginning to worry as road blockades continue and prices soar despite government’s measures and assurances.

The common people, particularly in the violence-hit villages, are suffering and politics does not fill the stomach.

Hunger is setting in and it is highly dangerous for the entire state. The realization must dawn before it is too late, and the situation is beyond restoration.

Read More: IFP Editorial


First published:


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IFP Bureau

IFP Bureau

IMPHAL, Manipur


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