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Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Kuki Groups Lift 2-Month Blockade On NH-2

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IMPHAL/GUWAHATI, July 2 (PTI): In a tragic incident, three “village volunteers” lost their lives and five others were injured during an exchange of fire with unidentified gunmen in Manipur’s Bishnupur district. The incident occurred late on Saturday night in Khoijumantabi village, where the volunteers were stationed in a makeshift bunker to guard the area. While two bodies were initially discovered, the third was recovered later. The shootout lasted for several hours, leaving five individuals wounded, with two of them in critical condition and receiving medical treatment at a hospital in Imphal. Chief Minister N Biren Singh visited the site to assess the situation and engage with the locals.

The violence in Manipur highlights the ongoing ethnic strife between the Meitei and Kuki communities, resulting in over 100 fatalities thus far. Meiteis constitute approximately 53 percent of Manipur’s population and primarily reside in the Imphal Valley, while the Nagas and Kukis, tribal communities, make up around 40 percent and inhabit the hill districts.

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In a positive development, the United Peoples’ Front (UPF) and Kuki National Organisation (KNO), representing Kuki organizations, have lifted the two-month blockade on National Highway 2 (NH-2) in Manipur’s Kangpokpi district. This decision comes in response to an appeal by Union Home Minister Amit Shah, who expressed deep concern for restoring peace and harmony in the state. The UPF, KNO, and other Kuki groups held discussions with Assam chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma in Guwahati, culminating in the decision to remove the blockade on NH-2. However, the Committee on Tribal Unity (COTU), a Kuki civil society group that initiated the roadblock two months ago, has not officially withdrawn the agitation yet.

The ongoing violence between the Meitei and Kuki communities has claimed numerous lives, prompting calls for increased security measures. The Kuki Zo organizations previously met with the home minister, urging him to provide security in vulnerable villages along the border and foothill areas. The deployment of central forces in these regions is underway, and once completed, the Kuki group’s plan to withdraw their “volunteers” to facilitate peace and tranquility. The organizations also appealed to all peace-loving groups and citizens in Manipur to reciprocate the gesture and work towards communal harmony and peace in the state.

The situation in Manipur remains tense, with efforts focused on resolving the ethnic strife and restoring normalcy. The government and relevant authorities must continue to address the underlying issues and take decisive action to ensure the safety and well-being of all communities in the region.

 

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