IMPHAL- A tribal body in Manipur on Monday reimposed an indefinite blockade on two national highways in Kangpokpi district, demanding adequate supplies of essential commodities to Kuki-Zo communities in hill areas of the state.
Committee on Tribal Unity (COTU) Sadar Hills Kangpokpi began the blockade on NH 2 which connects Imphal with Nagaland’s Dimapur and NH 37 which links Imphal with Assam’s Silchar.
“Volunteers of the tribal body were seen coming out on the streets at a few places of Kangpokpi district to enforce the blockade and prevent movement of vehicles,” an official said.
COTU secretary Lamminlun Singsit had on August 17 said, “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”.
Meanwhile, the Manipur Police had on Sunday said that movement of 163 vehicles with essential items on NH 2 has been ensured.
“Strict security measures have been taken up in all vulnerable locations and security convoy is provided in sensitive stretches to ensure free and safe movement of the vehicles,” the police said.
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 violence in the state erupted in early May after a ‘Tribal Solidarity March’ was organised in the hill districts to protest against the Meitei community’s demand for Scheduled Tribe (ST) status.
Since then, more than 160 people have died and several hundreds were injured in ethnic clashes in Manipur.
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.