Imphal, May 15: The general strike sponsored by the Kuki State Demand Committee brought border trade at Manipur’s border township of Moreh to a complete halt, with strike supporters not allowing anyone to cross the border for trade.
The Kuki State Demand Committee called the general strike in the Kuki-inhabited area from 6pm on May 12 to 6pm today to demand the creation of a Kuki state out of Manipur. A four-day economic blockade began from 6 this evening along Manipur’s two supply routes, the Imphal-Dimapur highway and Imphal-Jiribam highways.
The Imphal-Moreh route, through which foodgrains are coming from Myanmar, also come under the purview of the blockade.
The Kuki state demand is more than 50 years old.
“The general strike has completely stopped border trade between Moreh and Namphalong, Myanmar’s border shopping complex, as the general strike began,” R.K. Sana Singh, a businessman residing at Moreh, said over the phone. He said strike supporters kept a close vigil near the two border gates to prevent anyone from crossing over to Namphalong.
Kukis are the majority community in Moreh.
Commercial vehicles plying between Imphal and Moreh also stayed off the roads in view of the general strike. The general strike also affected normal life in Kuki-dominated Churachandpur district, Kangpokpi and Saikul in Senapati district.
Traders in Imphal said border trade would be affected till the blockade was over.
Kuki National Front, a militant group belonging to the Kuki community, however, opposed the strike and blockade, saying it would cause suffering to the common people.
This militant group is under a Suspension of Operations agreement with the Centre and Manipur government and cadres are now living in a designated camp in Senapati district. The Okram Ibobi Singh-government reviewed the security scenario, along with top civil and police officials today, and discussed strategies to ensure free in-flow of supply trucks.
An official source said security escorts would be provided for supply trucks plying along the Imphal-Dimapur highway. The supply trucks would be escorted to and from Imphal and Senapati district headquarters. The vehicles would move in a convoy system along with the security escorts. This highway passes through Kangpokpi in Senapati district, dominated by the Kuki community.
The source said similarly, supply trucks would move along Imphal-Jiribam highways with security escorts.
The demand committee said there was no response from the Centre and the Manipur government. He said if no response came after the blockade the committee would close government offices.