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Bandh disrupts border trade

- Moreh residents protest grenade attack, KNLF hand suspected

Imphal, Jan. 15: A daylong bandh at Manipur’s border town of Moreh disrupted trade between India and Myanmar today.

The bandh was called by residents to protest a grenade attack on the house of Jangmang Haokip, president of Hill Tribal Council, Moreh, yesterday afternoon. The council is the apex body of indigenous communities living in the town.

No one was injured in the attack and no one has claimed responsibility for it yet. Police are suspecting the involvement of Kuki National Liberation Front (KNLF), a splinter militant group that operates in Chandel district of Manipur, in the grenade attack.

The police said the grenade exploded inside the compound of Haokip’s home at ward 3. He was not home at that time. Eyewitnesses said three to four persons lobbed the grenade and fled towards Myanmar.

Sources said Haokip had been receiving extortion notices and threats from the KNLF and had requested the police for security.

An official said no trading was carried out between Moreh and Namphalong in Myanmar as all the shops remained closed in Moreh. However, the bandh was peaceful.

Yesterday’s grenade attack, which came nine days after the bomb blast at Kwatha Lamkhai, 10km from Moreh, has caused “serious concerns” in the state commerce department, which is trying to woo investors to the town where the state government is planning to develop an industrial hub to boost the Indo-Myanmar border trade.

On January 6, a surrendered militant had died when the IED he was trying to plant along the road at Kwatha Lamkhai exploded.

“The bomb explosions and today’s bandh, which disrupted the border trade at Moreh today, were unfortunate. If the law and order problem continues, our efforts to bring investors to Moreh cannot bear fruit,” an official in the commerce department said.

India is also trying to improve trade ties with South-East Asian countries under the Look East policy. The Asean-India car rally, organised to strengthen business and strategic relations between India and Asean countries, had passed through Manipur on December 15.