IMPHAL, May 13: The 72-hour bandh call given by Kuki State Demand Committee (KSDC) disrupted normal life in four hill districts of the state, particularly in the Kuki dominated areas on Sunday, with the Moreh town affected more seriously.
The strike which began at 6 am yesterday will end at 6 pm of May 15 and another economic blockade will be imposed by KSDC along all the National Highways beginning 6 pm of May 15 till 6 pm of May 19 in pursuance of its demand.
The eight-day long stir has been enforced by KSDC in Kuki inhabited areas in demand of a separate Kuki state in Manipur.
Sources said Moreh town in Chandel district wore a deserted look due to the strike while passenger buses were off the Imphal-Ukhrul, Imphal-Churachandpur and Imphal-Moreh roads.
No passenger bus plied along the Imphal-Kangpokpi and Saikul routes in Senapati district, too. All the markets in all the areas were also by and large shutdown.
In Saikul, the strike was responded with full support by volunteers of Kuki Inpi Saikul Block and Kuki Students’ Organization and the road stretch from Imphal to Gampizang was paralyzed as bandh supporters blocked the stretch at Ikou, reports said.
However, no untoward incident was so far reported in the strike except some minor skirmishes in some areas.
Meanwhile, Kuki Inpi Saikul Block president Thangkham Lufeng asserted that the ongoing strike imposed by KSDC does not aim to hurt the feelings of other communities in the state, saying the body fully supports it.
He said the Saikul Bloch Kuki Inpi and KSO will always extend support to any agitation spearheaded by KSDC in future if its demand fails to fulfill even after the strike.
Notably, KSDC had justified on the demand of a separate Kuki state, saying the Kukis have opted to remain as loyal citizens of India, but the ethnic community have been deprived of overall development for a long time which has encouraged the Kukis to demand for a separate state.
In post-independent India, many people have accorded statehoods to protect their identities and lands, and communities like the Nagas, the Mizos, the Khasi-Jaintia in the Northeast were honoured their Constitutional rights of attaining statehood, the KSDC had said.
Newmai adds: Following the imposition of 72-hour bandh in Kuki dominated areas of Manipur traffic flow was interrupted partially.
The Kuki State Demand Committee (KSDC) sponsored 72 hour began since 6 pm of Saturday.
Kuki Inpi, Saikul block chief Thangkam Lupheng said that whatever decision the KSDC takes, it will fully endorse.
Under the slogans, “Sovereignty-our historical rights” and “Kuki State-our demand for political settlement” the KSDC initiated the agitation. The bandh will be followed by economic blockade.
Reports said transporters have been escorted by state security force today.
Large numbers of security personnel are now taking up pre-emptive measures along the National Highways in Kuki areas to thwart the agitation.
Business establishment in the border town Moreh has been non-functional since last evening due to the bandh.
It can be noted here that the bandh has been called from 6 pm of May 12 to 6 pm of May 15 in Kuki dominated areas and after that economic blockade and banning of government offices and activities from 6 pm of May 15 to 6 pm of May 19 will be enforced by Kuki State Demand Committee (KSDC).
The KSDC while talking to the media recently in Churachandpur (Manipur south district) in which the demand for creation of separate Kuki State was reiterated for immediate settlement of the Kuki people’s long standing demand for self-determination within the constitutional framework of India.
Spokesperson of KSDC, K Khongsai stated that sovereignty is the historical rights of the Kuki people and Kuki State is the demand for political settlement.
When queried by media persons as to why a Kuki State is demanded when even the long-standing demand for Sadar Hills district within the state of Manipur has still not materialised, the KSDC spokesperson said that Nagas have Nagaland State, Mizos have Mizoram, Khasis have Meghalaya, but the Kukis do not have their own state, and added optimistically that in politics nothing is impossible.
K Khongsai said Kukis were free and independent having a glorious history and distinct customary administrative system before the advent of the British. In 1917, their forefathers fought the British to protect their land and freedom and then willfully joined the Indian National Army (INA) in its fight to throw away the British yoke.
When India attained independence, smaller kingdoms were merged with the Union while the Kukis and their lands didn’t merged, hoping that the government of India would reward the Kukis for the supreme sacrifices they contributed in the struggle for independence, the spokesperson of KSDC continued.
But when no reward came, it led the Kukis to demand for a separate Kuki state on March 24 1960 in the General Meeting of Kuki National Assembly (KNA) with a memorandum submitted to the then prime minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru, stated the KSDC leader.
K Khongsai further went on to state that Kuki Inpi Manipur (KIM) has also submitted numerous memoranda for creation of separate Kuki state under the Indian constitution with special provision to protect the traditional institutions and customs in conformity with democratic governance and promotions of the welfare of Kuki people, but they were not responded to by the government of India.
As such, in continuation with the genuine demand of the Kukis, the KSDC is formed to pursue the government of India to fulfill the long standing rightful and justified demand, the KSDC stated.