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Blockade to push for Kuki state

- Highway strike begins 5pm Thursday

Imphal, Nov. 12: The Kuki State Demand Committee (KSDC) has called an indefinite blockade on all national and state highways passing through Kuki-inhabited areas from 5pm on Thursday if the Centre fails to concede its demand for a separate Kuki state under the Constitution.

The committee also threatened to launch “quit Kuki lands” movement against India if the demand goes unheeded.

The demand will complicate things for the Centre which is hurrying to reach an agreement with the NSCN (I-M) by giving some symbol of Naga unity without disturbing Manipur’s territory. The Kukis are claiming lands which are also being claimed by the Nagas.

The Kuki “state” proposed by the committee comprises the whole of Chandel district, Churachandpur, Sadar Hills in Senapati district and parts of Tamenglong and Ukhrul districts.

“The Kuki State Demand Committee, reiterating its demand for a separate Kuki state to be carved out of Kuki traditional lands incorporated within present day Manipur, shall launch a mass movement beginning 5pm on November 15 to press for its demand,” the general secretary of the committee, Benjamin Mate, announced here today.

He said the mass movement would be carried out through blockades at Kuki-inhabited areas of Imphal-Ukhrul road, Imphal-Tamenglong road, Imphal-Moreh road, Imphal-Chandel road, Imphal-Senapati road and Imphal-Churachandpur road.

The blockades will snap road communication between Imphal and the five districts in the hills and also affect supply of essential commodities as Imphal-Jiribam highway and Imphal-Dimapur highway, the main supply lines, will come under the blockade.

“Kuki people led by the KSDC will launch quit-Kuki lands movement against India if the democratic demands of the Kuki people are not heeded to,” Mate warned.

The Kuki state demand was first raised in 1961 by a Kuki organisation named Kuki National Assembly. The demand committee cited political neglect, threat to Kuki land and deprivation of the Kukis as reasons for demanding a Kuki state.

The grounds are almost similar to the reason behind United Naga Council’s demand for an alternative administrative arrangement for the Nagas living in Manipur outside the purview of Manipur government. The UNC’s demand for an alternative arrangement includes Chandel, Tamenglong, Ukhrul and Senapati districts.

Mate said the blockade would continue till the Centre gave a written assurance that political dialogue would begin by the Centre with Kuki people represented by the committee, Kuki militant groups having suspension of operations agreement with the Centre and the Manipur government.

The committee has sent a memorandum to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh informing him about the blockade and the Kukis’ demand.