To demonstrate that they mean business, the Kuki State Demand Committee has called a general strike throughout the Kuki-inhabited areas of Manipur from 6pm of May 12 till 6pm of May 15.
The general strike will be followed by an economic blockade along two supply lines of Manipur.
Imphal-Dimapur highway and Imphal-Jiribam highway, the only supply routes for Manipur, pass through Kuki-inhabited areas.
The economic blockade, which will start from 6pm of May 15, will continue till 6pm of May 19.
The demand committee is also determined to close all government offices in Kuki-inhabited areas during the economic blockade.
The proposed Kuki state includes all the Kuki-inhabited areas in Senapati, Chandel, Churachandpur, Ukhrul and Tamenglong districts.
The renewed demand came in the backdrop of the United Naga Council’s reiteration on May 6 of an alternative administrative arrangement for the Nagas living in Manipur outside the administrative jurisdiction of the Manipur government.
“When India attained Independence, smaller kingdoms merged with the Union while the Kukis and our lands did not merge (with India). We were waiting for a reward in view of the contribution made by us in the struggle for Independence, but no reward came. It led us to demand a separate Kuki state on March 24, 1960, in the general meeting of the Kuki National Assembly,” K. Khongsai, the spokesman for the demand committee, told reporters in the district headquarters of Churachandpur today.
The demand committee was formed in November 1990 to spearhead the movement for a Kuki state. It is headquartered at Sielmat in the district headquarters of Churachandpur.
The demand came at a time when nearly 20 Kuki militant groups, which signed a suspension of operation agreement with the Manipur government and the Centre, are insisting that political talks should start.
Some of the groups now in designated camps are demanding a separate state for the Kukis.
The demand committee organised a strike and a public rally in Kuki-inhabited areas last year to reiterate its demand.
“But the government of India remains a mute spectator. As such, to reiterate our demand for immediate settlement of the Kuki people’s long-standing demand for self-determination within the constitutional framework, the demand committee is compelled to launch another agitation,” Khongsai said.
The blockade will dislocate supply of all kinds of commodities to Manipur for four days, creating scarcity of essential commodities.
The committee said the media and medical services would be exempted from the purview of the strike.