Kuki Groups Lift Blockade from NH2, Fresh Violence Claims Four Lives

3 July, 2023 | Bhavnish Tawar

Manipur National

The blockade of the National Highway-2, which connects Imphal and Dimapur in Nagaland, was in effect since the outbreak of violence on May 3.

Kuki rebel groups in Manipur have announced the cessation of the two-month-long blockade on the national highway in Manipur’s Kangpokpi district. This significant development has paved the way for the resumption of the state’s critical lifeline. However, it is disheartening to note that acts of violence in Manipur have persisted, leading to the unfortunate loss of four lives on Sunday. Law enforcement authorities have confirmed one instance of a victim being beheaded.

The blockade of the National Highway-2, which connects Imphal and Dimapur in Nagaland, has been in effect since the outbreak of violence on May 3. This blockade has had a profound and detrimental impact on the uninterrupted supply of essential commodities.

Although the blockade was briefly lifted in early June due to an appeal made by Union Home Minister Amit Shah during his visit to the state, it was reimposed a few days later. This decision was made in response to the tragic killing of three individuals from the Kuki-Zomi community in Kangpokpi district on June 9.

The United People’s Front and the Kuki National Organisation, operating under the 2008 Suspension of Operations agreement with the Centre and the state, issued an official statement on Sunday. In this statement, they declared an immediate end to the blockade to ensure an uninterrupted supply of essential commodities within the state. This decision was prompted by Shah’s expressed concern regarding restoring peace and harmony, along with alleviating general suffering among the population.

Expressing gratitude towards the deployment of central forces in various border areas between the hills and the valley, they also reiterated their commitment to withdrawing their volunteers from these locations as soon as they complete their deployment in all vulnerable areas. On the previous evening, Chief Minister Biren Singh expressed that he had engaged in discussions with representatives of the Kuki community that very day to foster peace and promote reconciliation.

Addressing the media on Saturday evening, he conveyed, “I had conversations with a few individuals from the esteemed Kuki community via telephone, emphasizing the significance of leaving the past behind. It is now opportune to extend forgiveness, let go of grievances, reconcile our differences, and coexist harmoniously.”

Another unfortunate incident occurred in Khoijumantabi, located in the Bishnupur district, bordering the valley and the hill district of Churachandpur. This incident involved gunfire and resulted in the untimely deaths of three individuals. According to the authorities, an incident took place during the early hours of the night in which individuals armed with weapons, originating from nearby hills, initiated an attack on the village volunteers who were stationed at Khoijumantabi Hills. Subsequently, the local administration decided to restrict the curfew relaxation period in Bishnupur district to five hours, from 5 am to 10 am.

To assess the situation in the violence-stricken area of Bishnupur, the Chief Minister paid a visit on Sunday afternoon.

Since June 29, instances of violence have occurred at the border between the hills and the valley in the state, resulting in the deaths of at least six individuals. This comes after a comparatively peaceful period of approximately 15 days. Consequently, the recent fatalities have raised the total death toll to no less than 137 since the commencement of the violence on May 3.