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Blockade starves Manipur of fuel

- Kuki enforcers adamant on talks demand

Imphal, Jan. 27: Manipur is fast running out of fuel as a result of the blockade imposed on the state’s supply routes by the Kuki State Demand Committee, which is calling for carving out a new state from the hill districts.The demand committee resumed its “public blockade” on Thursday to mount pressure on the Centre to start talks regarding creation of the Kuki state, which it is demanding to be carved out of areas comprising the whole of Churachandpur and Chandel districts along with Kuki-inhabited parts of Senapati, Ukhrul and Tamenglong districts.

On December 14, the committee suspended the blockade that was imposed from November 17 but resumed it blaming the Centre for failing in its assurance to hold talks.

Official sources said the fuel situation in Manipur was made worse since the past few days after a blockade imposed by the Jakhama Village Council in Nagaland disrupted supply for five days last week. The blockade was imposed after a man hit by a Manipur-bound truck died.

Such is the crunch that only a few petrol pumps opened today.

Official sources said arrangements were being made to send oil tankers with security escorts from tomorrow.

Petrol is transported to the state from Assam over the Imphal-Dimapur highway, which passes through Kuki-dominated Sadar Hills in Senapati district. Various vehicles, including oil tankers, were stranded in Senapti and Dimapur because of the blockade.

Manipur requires 90 kilolitres of petrol and 220 kilolitres of diesel every day.

The again, though most petrol pumps are closed, both petrol and diesel are available in the black market, where one litre of petrol is being sold at Rs 100 to Rs 110 and each litre of diesel is being sold between Rs 70 and Rs 80.

The situation is unlikely to improve in the next few days, as the demand committee is adamant that it will not lift the blockade until the Centre takes steps to start talks.

Blasts claim

CorCom, a co-ordinating committee of seven militant groups of Manipur, claimed responsibility for triggering five IEDs on the eve and on Republic Day in the valley.

In a statement issued today, the committee said the blasts were part of its boycott of Republic Day.

Four bombs were exploded on the eve of the Republic Day in an around Imphal. One of them exploded inside the 1st Manipur Rifles battalion headquarters where the Republic Day parade ground was located. No one, however, was injured in the explosions.