The blockade will be in force in all Kuki-inhabited areas
The Kuki Statehood Demand Committee (KSDC) which is miffed with the stonewalling attitude of the State and the Union governments on the demand for a new State of the Kuki tribals in Manipur has clamped an indefinite “public blockade” from Friday afternoon. Besides, the KSDC won’t allow the ASEAN car rally to pass through Manipur, as the blockade will be in force in all Kuki-inhabited areas in the national and state highways.
George Gangte, the information secretary of the KSDC, told journalists on Tuesday in Churachandpur district that the “constitutional demand” for a new state, to be carved out of Manipur, is reasonable.
The territorial area of Manipur is just 22,327 square kilometres, which is much smaller than any district of Assam or West Bengal.
In protest against the lukewarm response from the Union government, the KSDC will internationalise their issue by blocking the ASEAN car rally, which will pass through national highway 39. Union Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde had assured the Manipur Home Minister G. Gaikhangam that soon after the winter session of the Parliament, top officials from the Home Ministry will be sent to Manipur to work out the modalities for peace talks with the Kuki militant organisations which had surfaced after signing the suspension of operations with the Union government on August 22, 2008.
Gaikhangam explained that since the demands of these militant organisations and the KSDC are identical, there shouldn’t be blockades. However, the KSDC had clamped a crippling blockade from November 17 to 22.
But it was suspended once an assurance was given. The representatives of KSDC had gone to Delhi to demand a written commitment from the Union government. However, they returned empty-handed.
The Manipur government had also pointed out that one of the conditions of the suspension of operations was that the signatories shouldn’t demand the disintegration of Manipur under any circumstances.
The proposed blockade will cover all Kuki-inhabited areas in Manipur, which means that life will come to a standstill.
The KSDC spokesman, K. Kongshai said that the KSDC will hold talks only with the Union government.
He also ignored the statement of the International Meiteis Forum, which said that some of the Kukis had migrated to Manipur from Myanmar and Mizoram a few centuries ago, and that there is no Kuki land in Manipur.
It further said that the word Kuki came into being only after the British rule in Manipur, after the last battle of independence fought on April 23, more than a century ago. Khongsai merely said that the Forum leader doesn’t know history.
However, he didn’t come with contradictions of the statement.
Whenever blockades are clamped in Manipur, the people are starved of consumer items, and prices of all items are hiked beyond the reach of the common people.
There is already a psychology of shortage and people are resorting to ‘panic buying’ of consumer items and fuel before these items disappear from the market.