The Telegraph
Wednesday , December 12 , 2012
Since 1st March, 1999
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Trouble ahead for Asean rally

Imphal, Dec. 11: The Manipur leg of the Asean-India Car Rally, 2012 is likely to run into trouble while passing through the Kuki-inhabited areas with the Kuki State Demand Committee today announcing an indefinite blockade on all state and national highways from 5pm on Friday.

The car rally, which was flagged off at the Indonesian city of Yogyakarta on November 26, is expected to enter India through Manipur’s border town of Moreh from Tamu town of Myanmar on Saturday. It will head for Imphal city the same day along the Imphal-Moreh sector of National Highway 2, which passes through several Kuki-inhabited areas.

The rally, organised by the Confederation of Indian Industries and the ministry of external affairs, reached Thailand today. It will start its eighth leg tomorrow when it enters Hpa-An, the capital of Kayin state of Myanmar.

The committee’s publicity secretary George Guite said, “We shall not allow even a single vehicle participating in the Asean car rally to pass beyond Moreh point into Kuki territory. We are aware that this rally was proposed by the Indian Prime Minister to strengthen India’s economic ties with Asean. However, we feel such ties are hollow and at best exploitative if our rights on our territories and our rights to develop as a people are denied proper recognition.”

The committee has called the blockade to press for its demand for creation of a separate Kuki state to be carved out of “Kuki traditional lands”, now in Manipur. The proposed Kuki state comprises Chandel and Churachandpur districts and portions of Senapati, Ukhrul and Tamenglong districts.

Guite said the committee was prepared to launch a “quit Kuki land” movement against the Indian government.

He said they would not call off the agitation until the Centre announced in Parliament a date for initiation of political dialogue with the committee and the Kuki insurgent groups, who have suspension of operations agreement with the government, soon after the ongoing Parliament session.

The committee had earlier announced a blockade on all state and national highways from November 17-22 to press for this demand. The blockade was suspended after deputy chief minister Gaikhangam assured it that the Union home ministry would send an official team to Manipur after the Parliament session to chalk out the modalities of talks with the Kuki militant groups. The Centre was brought in as the committee refused to hold talks with the state government.

The committee today said it was compelled to resume the blockade, as the “arrogant” Centre was “reluctant to respond to the Kuki demand”.