A tribal group in Manipur today reimposed an indefinite blockade on two national highways, demanding adequate supplies of essential commodities to Kuki-Zo communities in hill areas of the state.
NH 2 connects Imphal with Dimapur in Nagaland and NH 37 links Imphal with Assam’s Silchar. Both highways are vital to Manipur to maintain surface communication with the rest of the country via Nagaland and Assam.
The Committee on Tribal Unity (CoTU) had issued an ultimatum that a blockade will begin in three days if things don’t improve by then.
“Highway blockades would be reimposed on NH 2 (Imphal-Dimapur) and NH 37 (Imphal-Silchar) if the supplies of essential commodities to Kuki Zo communities in the hill areas of the state are not ensured,” said COTU secretary Lamminlun Singsit had on August 17.
Officials said that a large number of men and women in Kangpokpi district enforced the blockade and prevented the movement of goods-laden vehicles.
Another tribal organisation Kuki Zo Defence Force also warned that it would impose blockades from August 26 onwards if supplies of essential goods and medicines to Kuki Zo inhabited areas are not ensured.
The NH 2 had been blocked at least twice since the violence began in May. When Home Minister Amit Shah visited Manipur in May-end, he had requested groups like CoTU to lift the blockade, and they had complied.
The violence in Manipur began on May 3 after a ‘Tribal Solidarity March’ was organised in the hill districts to protest against the Meitei community’s demand for Scheduled Tribe (ST) status.
Over 180 people have lost their lives and more than 3,000 have been injured in the violence. More than 60,000 people remain displaced and property worth thousands of crores has been destroyed.
Meiteis account for about 53 per cent of Manipur’s population and live mostly in the Imphal Valley, while tribals, which include Nagas and Kukis, constitute 40 per cent and reside mainly in the hill districts.