Tribal blockade of north-east Indian state continues

By Subir Bhaumik
BBC News, Calcutta

Image caption, Protests at the border have been going on since April

A blockade by tribal groups of roads into the north-eastern Indian state of Manipur is continuing, despite a government decision to send in troops.

On Tuesday, the leading protest group called off the two-month blockade, but other groups have refused to back down.

They have been protesting against the authorities' refusal to allow Naga separatist leader Thuingaleng Muivah to visit his birthplace in the state.

The blockade has led to severe shortages of food and medical supplies.

India's home secretary GK Pillai was due to meet officials from Nagaland and Manipur states to decide whether paramilitary forces will be used to clear the blockade of two key highways linking the state with the rest of the country - if necessary by force.

Hopes for a settlement rose on Tuesday when the Naga Students' Federation told the BBC it had decided to end the blockade following a meeting with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

But two other groups - the All Naga Students Association of Manipur and the United Naga Council of Manipur - have said their protest will continue until the Manipur state government withdraws its security forces from Naga-inhabited areas of the state.

They are also demanding that the government cancel the arrest warrants issued for two of their leaders.

Naga rebels have been campaigning for decades for a separate homeland.

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