Remove barricades, let IDPs go back home: COCOMI
Source: The Sangai Express

Imphal, September 14 2023: By erecting security barricades, Meitei villages have been turned into "buffer zones" keeping thousands of people away from their homes, said the Coordinating Committee on Manipur Integrity (COCOMI), urging the Government to remove the barricades and allow displaced people to go back to their villages and homes.

Although there is no official order or a decree from the Government to set up "buffer zones", these security barricades have been set up only in Meitei settlements/villages and fields in the foothills while not a single Kuki village has been touched.

There are no barricades or buffer zones in any of the Kuki villages nearby, said COCOMI in a statement.

Remove barricades, let IDPs go back home: COCOMI
Remove barricades, let IDPs go back home: COCOMI

Giving detailed accounts of the barricades set up across several districts, COCOMI said an artificial "buffer zone" has been created 3 Kms inside Bishnupur district from the border area with Churachandpur district.

No barricades have been erected in the Kuki area of Churachandpur in the inter- district boundary area.

The barricades have been put in place only in Meitei villages and agricultural fields.

The more than 3 kilometres "buffer zone" reaching Kwakta in Bishnupur district has left many Meitei villages deserted, said COCOMI.

It stressed that the September 6 mass protest staged at Kwakta, attended by thousands including the displac- ed people, was organised urging the Government and the security forces to shift the barricades to the border area of Torbung, where it should be if there is any need for such a barricade, said COCOMI.

Kukis have burnt houses, looted properties and even built bunkers in Meitei villages in the area.

All the while security forces turned a blind eye.

It may be mentioned here that in late June, armed SoO Kuki militants had occupied and installed illegal bunkers in several areas under Bishnupur district and they had even hoisted a militant flag at Phougakchao Ikhai Awang Maning Leikai [in Bishnupur district].

While disallowing the Meitei locals/original villagers to return to their homes, the Central security have been blind to the activities of Kukis inside the "so-called buffer zone" .

This attitude of the Central security forces has encouraged and emboldened the Kukis, and is seen as a ploy to give away land/villages belonging to Meitei to Kukis, said COCOMI.

Moreover, the "buffer zone" stretching some 15-20 Kms from Ningthoukhong to the south towards Torbung has ruined hundreds of acres of agricultural fields, said COCOMI.

The Central security forces deployed in this area, instead of protecting farmers, haven't allowed them (farmers/cultivators) to enter the field and take up agricultural activities.

While the fields in the upper side of the High Canal have been designated "off-limit" to Meitei farmers for security, farmers attending fields in the lower side of the High Canal have also come under constant firing by armed Kuki militants.

Some farmers have been injured in such firing by armed Kukis, with most of the fields belonging to the Meitei community occupied and taken over by Kukis, said COCOMI.

Similarly, Meitei villages of Ikou, Dolaithabi, Sadu, Yengkhuman and Pukhao Naharup Awang Leikai along Imphal-Saikul road and the vast agricultural fields near these villages have been turned into a "buffer zone" .

Kuki militants attacked these villages and burnt hundreds of houses.

Here also, the "buffer zone" touches no Kuki area.

As per some media reports, Kukis have taken over hundreds of acres of field in the area and they have even started living in some Meitei houses at Ikou, it said.

Amid all these, the Kuki Chiefs Association, in an open letter to COCOMI on September 6 had warned not to cross LOC [Line of Control], said COCOMI.

Their warning, the open letter with the subject-- "Do not cross the LOC" indicates how they perceive the "buffer zone" created by the security forces.

Line of Control exists between India and Pakistan and such a reference has been drawn by the Kuki Chiefs to lay claim on land belonging to Meiteis.

COCOMI doesn't take the Kuki Chiefs statement lightly, it said.

Further, along Imphal-Ukhrul road, barricades have been erected between Sabungkhok and Yaingangpokpi.

As these barricades have been erected towards Sabungkhok, the buffer zone may cover Meitei villages of Sanasabi, Thamnapokpi, Gwaltabi and Yaingangpokpi and several acres of agricultural fields.

Hundreds of acres of fields stretching from Leimakhong, Khurkhul, Senjam Chirang area to Kadangband, Kangchup have been turned into buffer zones.

Several Meitei villages under Sekmai to Nongthombam, Sekmai Khunou, Kanglatongbi, Motbung and thousands of acres of fields have been converted into buffer zones.

Also, Sugnu's Napat village to Tangjeng Khunou, Leingangpokpi, agricultural fields near Haotak in Kumbi area and acres of land including fields in Serou have been turned into "buffer zones" .

"These so-called buffer zones have denied people of their land, their villages and homes.

It will be a difficult and dangerous situation for the Meiteis, if we lose not only Moreh and Churachandpur, but also land around the valley.

It is the duty of every indigenous people to unitedly save and protect Manipur and our ancestral land," said COCOMI.

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