In a tragic turn of events, the Committee on Tribals Unity Sadar Hills (COTU) has decided to reinstate a complete closure of National Highway 2 (NH-2) following an outbreak of violence. The decision comes in the wake of a distressing incident that occurred in Khoken village, resulting in the loss of three lives, including that of an elderly woman, and leaving two others injured.
NH-2, which serves as the lifeline of Manipur, had remained naturally closed for a month without any official declaration of a bandh or blockade. However, after an appeal from Union Home Minister Amit Shah during his recent visit to Kangpokpi district, COTU took the initiative to open the highway for limited hours each day.
Unfortunately, the resumption of traffic was short-lived. In the early hours of the morning, Khoken village in the New Keithelmanbi area of Kangchup Geljang Sub Division witnessed a violent attack by alleged Meitei terrorists. Sophisticated weapons were reportedly used in the assault, leading to the tragic deaths of three innocent villagers, including an elderly woman, and injuring two others.
Expressing deep condemnation for the violent incident, COTU spokesperson Rev. K. Sitlhou described it as "extremely tragic." He expressed concerns over the escalation of violence in Manipur, with suspected Meitei terrorists persisting in acts of killing, arson, and other forms of violence.
Rev. Sitlhou highlighted the fact that among the victims was an elderly woman who had been praying for peace and harmony inside the church, emphasizing the need for urgent action to curb violence and protect communities. He called on the Central Government to not only enforce non-violence through legislation but also ensure its practical implementation.
In light of the "extremely tragic" incident, the COTU convened an emergency meeting and decided to reimpose a complete closure of NH-2, effective from tonight. The committee also submitted a representation to the Union Home Minister, urging immediate action against the alleged Meitei terrorists responsible for the continuous violence, killings, and torching of Kuki villages.
The representation, signed by COTU President Thanglen Kipgen and Secretary Lamminlun Singsit, expressed regret over the persistence of violence despite the peace mission undertaken by the Union Home Minister. It highlighted the violent attack in Khoken Village, which took place after a combing operation conducted in the area by a team consisting of Army personnel, state forces, and valley-based media personnel.
The representation conveyed the heartfelt support of the Kuki community for the combing operation, believing it would contribute to peace in the region. However, the tragic incident shattered those hopes. The COTU called for immediate and prompt action against the suspected Meitei terrorists involved in the attack, seeking justice for the victims and the affected communities.
With NH-2 once again closed, the flow of essential goods and transportation in Manipur faces significant disruptions.
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