A hill-based committee today said it would impose indefinite blockade on national and state highways in Manipur to press for carving out a separate Kuki state.
A spokesman of the Kuki State Demand Committee (KSDC) told mediapersons here that they have been demanding a separate Kuki state since 1961 and would launch a series of agitations if this was not done by the central and state governments.
As an initial step, KSDC has called indefinite blockade on the national highways 39 (Imphal-Dimapur-Guwahati) and 53 (Imphal-Jiribam-Silchar), the two main roads connecting Manipur with the rest of the country, from November 15.
The spokesman also said the blockade would be imposed on all the state highways, adding that Kukis wanted a separate state by carving out Kuki-settled areas in hill districts, including Tamenglong, Senapati, Ukhrul and Churachandpur districts. Official sources said the blockade, if imposed, would cause extreme inconvenience to people both in the hills and valley.
They said the government was aware of the demand of the committee but refused to elaborate further. Political observers said KSDC stepped up their stir in view of the possible solution to the Centre-NSCN-IM (Naga militant outfit) peace talks before Nagaland assembly election in March next.
They said Kukis and Nagas have settled in Manipur hill districts side by side and wondered how could one break up Manipur with only 22,327 square kilometres to form different small states along ethnic lines.
Meanwhile, several social organisations in separate statements strongly opposed any proposal to break up Manipur. Official sources said in early 1990s, more than 1,000 persons were killed in ethnic clashes between Kukis and Nagas allegedly following the latter's attempt to drive the former from their areas.
In June 2001, 18 persons were killed in agitations by different social organisations following the extension of ceasefire between centre and NSCN-IM, viewed by the protesting organisations as a step to break up Manipur.