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Page last updated at 12:04 GMT, Tuesday, 18 May 2010 13:04 UK

Separatists blockade hits India's Manipur state

By Sanjoy Majumder
BBC News, Imphal

Naga civilians block a road in Manipur protest against the state government's decision to ban the entry of Mr Muivah on 7 May 2010
Mr Muivah's supporters are angry at the Manipur ban

India is flying in emergency supplies to the remote north-eastern state of Manipur after key roads were blocked by separatists from a neighbouring state.

Road links were cut off by supporters of Thuingaleng Muivah, a rebel leader from Nagaland who has been denied entry to Manipur by the state government.

Mr Muivah's home village is in Manipur, which says allowing him to visit would inflame ethnic tensions.

The road blockade has led to a severe shortage of fuel and medicines.

For the past five weeks, two highways which serve as the lifelines of this remote mountainous state on Burma's border have been blocked by supporters of Mr Muivah, the leader of India's longest running separatist insurgency.

Mr Muivah has been barred from visiting his home village, Somdal, which lies inside Manipur in an area dominated by members of his Naga tribe.

It is a bitter standoff between the Nagas and the Manipuris who share a history of animosity.

The blockade has had a massive impact on Manipur. Petrol stations have shut down, with no fuel available.

"The situation is dire. There is no petrol or cooking gas available anywhere. Whatever is available is on the black market at ridiculous rates," retired air force officer Rajkumar Ronendrajit told the BBC.

Hospitals are also running short of life-saving drugs and oxygen.

"We normally carry out 20 surgeries a day. We are down to about eight because our stocks of oxygen are fast running out," managing director of Shija hospital Dr KH Palin said.

Officials say cargo aircraft carrying rice and medicine have now begun arriving to try and ease the situation.

But with the blockade continuing, things continue to remain tense.



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