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R-Day rehearsals amid blockade

Imphal, Jan. 24: The district administration of Churachan-dpur, dominated by Kukis, is gearing up for Republic Day celebrations amid a boycott call by the Kuki State Demand Committee.

A full rehearsal of the programme was held today succe-ssfully with contingents of security forces and educational institutions taking part in it.

The Kuki State Demand Committee’s indefinite blockade in the Kuki areas began at 5pm today.

Mounting pressure on the Centre for initiation of talks with the demand committee over the issue of creation o f a Kuki state out of Manipur, the committee intensified its agitation by calling the blockade.

The agitation include boycott of Republic Day, burning the Tricolour to mark “severance of ties with the Centre,” public curfew in all district and sub-divisional headquarters in Kuki areas on Republic Day and imposition of an indefinite blockade.

The demand committee also asked all government establishments to withdraw from Kuki-inhabited areas.

The blockade will snap road communication between the valley and hill districts.

The stepped-up agitation for a Kuki state came at a time when the Centre-NSCN (I-M) peace talks are in final stages. The NSCN (I-M) is demanding integration of all Naga-inhabited areas of Manipur with Nagaland.

The Naga militant group’s claim of territory overlaps with that of the Kukis.

While the NSCN (I-M) is claiming Chandel, Ukhrul, Senapati and Tamenglong districts as the Nagas’ ancestral land, the Kukis are claiming the whole of Churachandpur and Chandel districts and portions of other three hill districts of Ukhrul, Tamenglong and Senapati as their ancestral land.

The Kukis are demanding that the Kuki issue be settled first before signing a peace deal between the Centre and the NSCN (I-M).

The government is taking up all measures to ensure uninterrupted Republic Day celebrations in Churachandpur district headquarters.

“We held a full rehearsal of Republic Day today. Contingents of police, homeguards, central forces and students of schools and colleges took part in the march past. Altogether 29 contingents took part in the parade held at Lamka public ground,” an official source said over phone.

The source said routine frisking and search operations were being carried out in and around the district headquarters to flush out criminals. The district authorities are reviewing law and order regularly to ensure that the Republic Day passes off smoothly.

Despite appeals from chief minister Okram Ibobi Singh and deputy chief minister Gaikhangam, who is also the home minister, yesterday to reconsider imposition of the blockade, the demand committee decided to go ahead with the plan.

“We have not changed the course of agitation. We will go ahead. We will also enforce curfew on Republic Day in Kuki-inhabited areas,” publicity secretary of the demand committee, George Guite, said over phone from Churachandpur.

In Jorhat, police have sounded a red alert in the district following information that militants may strike in the run-up to Republic Day. The police have asked the people to keep an eye on any kind of suspicious activity and inform the police immediately.


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