Plight of Truck Drivers at NH 37 during Economic Blockade in Manipur: A Grave Concern of Human Security
By I. Yaipharemba
Manipur is a land lock state which depends on existing National Highways for importing essential commodities and transportation of materials entirely rest with the incumbent trucks. Highways remain only passes through which, in addition to essential commodities, traveller undertake bus journey to train station like Dimapur or Guwahati. The Tupul-Imphal train line is at construc- tion phase and will take some more years to complete. Jiribam has also lim- ited train service. On air connectivity, Imphal has an airport that is well con- nected with metro cities but bringing essential commodities by aircraft is very limited, as a result highways are very important for the state for flow of com- modities. In a nutshell, average Manipuri depends on road for journey to other states of Northeast and commodities required. By its significance nature ex- isting Highways are the life line for people of Manipur irrespective of Hill or Valleymen. Due to fragile ethnic-political conditions that prevail, the state is prone to bandhs and economic blockades initiate by parties for one or another reason. During economic blockade, vehicular traffic at the Highways is to- tally shut down by supporters and violent attacks at good laden trucks and drivers frequently take place. The truck drivers suffer the most when assaults were inflicted during the journey. The assaults generally damage or destroy vehicles and cause financial issue for the drivers. During normal days, essen- tial items are brought at NH 2 Dimapur-Imphal which is short and well con- structed as compare to NH 37. The NH 37 for Manipur is 220 km in length and is single lane with severe road conditions. However, due to frequent and prolong blockade, essential materials including petroleum products, medical items, eatable etc are brought through NH 37 Jiribam-Imphal with police pro- tection regardless of violent assault from blockade supporters and bad road. The truck drivers thus, play a live saviour role in the critical situation by bringing goods to capital city Imphal, facing numerous odds. Time and again, during blockade while escorting, there is wide presumption that police pro- tection are inadequate and insensitive. Drivers feel the security cover is not enough and more materials can be transport in, if frequency of security convoy is increase. The study attempts to establish the complexities suffer by truck drivers integrating the fundamental of Human Security that concerns with individual safeguarding. This paper is a noble effort of recounting the relentless efforts of unrewarded truck drivers at the mad road ahead.