Bijang Vengnom (Churachandpur), Nov. 20: The first round of talks between the Kuki State Demand Committee and the Manipur government today broke down and the committee decided to continue the blockade along the state and national highways in Manipur.
The blockade began on November 17.
A government team headed by deputy chief minister Gaikhangam and a delegation of the demand committee held talks today on the demand for creation of a Kuki state and also for the start of a political dialogue between the Centre and the Kuki militant groups having suspension of operations agreement.
“The committee reiterates its stand that public blockade will continue until the Union government gives a written assurance inviting the committee (to talks),” the spokesman for the demand committee, K. Khongsai, told the media.
During the talks, Gaikhangam briefed the committee delegation about the assurance given by Union home minister Sushil Kumar Shinde to him that an official team would be sent to Imphal to chalk out modalities of talks with the Kuki militant groups after the winter session of Parliament.
Twenty Kuki militant groups under two umbrella organisations — Kuki National Organisation and United Peoples’ Front —have suspension of operation agreements with the government since August 2005 and they are waiting for start of dialogue.
Gaikhangam appealed to the committee to lift the blockade in view of the assurance given by Shinde.
After returning to Churachandpur, the delegation discussed the proceedings of the talks and the appeal by Gaikhangam with other members of the committee at Churachandpur district headquarters.
The committee decided to continue with the blockade. The committee, however, appreciated the initiative taken by Gaikhangam.
“We appreciate the initiative taken by the deputy chief minister. We will, however, end the blockade only when the Union home minister gives a written assurance to start political dialogue with Kuki militant groups and the demand committee,” the general secretary of the committee, Benjamin Mate, said.
He alleged that the Centre was not serious enough on the grievances of the Kukis. “When there is a Naga blockade, home ministry officials come down and talk to them. Now, the ministry is silent on the Kuki demand,” he said.
The committee, however, responding to the appeal by Gaikhangam, decided to exempt those taking part in the Manipur Sangai Festival which will begin tomorrow and candidates of Teachers Eligibility Test which will be held on November 27 outside the purview of the blockade.
The committee condemned the state government for an assault on an elderly woman supporter of the blockade today by police along Imphal-Ukhrul road.
In a related development, the Tangkhul Naga Long today said the Nagas’ land was inseparable.
The president of the Tangkhul Naga Long, Solomon Ningshen, said in a statement that the Nagas in Manipur were demanding alternative arrangement outside the Manipur government, pending “Indo-Naga” final settlement.