Reports of roadblocks in Kuki areas send back MST buses
Source: The Sangai Express

Imphal, December 23 2023: Tight security arrangements made by the State Government for resumption of Manipur State Transport's bus service on Imphal-Senapati-Mao and Imphal-Churachandpur routes could not yield the desired result as the buses have to turn around before reaching their destinations.

MST's Imphal-Senapati bus departed Imphal (North AOC) together with private passenger buses plying on Imphal-Dimapur-Guwahati route at around 10.30 am today.

The MST's Imphal-Churachandpur bus was flagged off from near Malom oil depot.

There were just four/five non-Meitei passengers on board the MST's Imphal-Senapati bus but there was not a single passenger on the Imphal-Churachandpur bus.

Reports of roadblocks in Kuki areas send back MST buses
Reports of roadblocks in Kuki areas send back MST buses

On receiving information about Kuki volunteers blocking the highways at several points, the Imphal-Senapati bus took a U-turn from Gamgiphai near Kang-latongbi and the Imphal-Churachandpur bus turned back towards Imphal from Phougakchao Ikhai.

Nonetheless, the other private passenger buses went past Kangpokpi to their respective destinations like Senapati, Mao, Kohima, Dimapur and Guwahati.

MST's Imphal-Senapati bus was escorted by a police team led by Lamphel police station SDPO N Ingocha till Kanglatongbi Shantipur while the Imphal-Chura-chandpur bus was escorted by another police team led by Bishnupur SP K Meghachandra.

The State Government's Home Department made arrangements for Kangpoki/Senapati district police and Central paramilitary forces to escort the Imphal-Senpati bus from Kanglatongbi Shantipur till Senapati and Mao.

As there is no Kuki village between Senapati and Mao, the security arrangement was relaxed in this section of the highway but tight security measures were put in place from Imphal to Kangpokpi.

Notwithstanding the tight security measures, not a single Meitei passenger was on board the MST's Imphal-Senapati bus as well as the private passenger buses heading to Dimapur and Guwahati.

Meiteis have been staying away from Imphal-Mao highway since the violent conflict erupted on May 3, 2023 .

Two Meitei teenagers who mistakenly crossed Kanglatongbi bridge toward Gamgiphai on November 5 could not be traced till date.

The bus passengers who travelled from Imphal toward Senapati today with security escorts were Nagas, Nepalese, Meitei Pangals and non-Manipuris.

After the passenger bus service was suspended for a long time following the violent conflict which erupted on May 3, some private transporters resumed Imphal-Dimapur-Guwahati bus service with buses not owned by Meiteis.

These buses have been carrying only non-Meitei passengers.

The MST's Imphal-Churachandpur bus took U-turn from Phougakchao Ikhai as reports were received about Kuki volunteers blocking the highway at Kangvai.

After passenger transport service was suspended on Imphal-Senapati-Dimapur highway for a long time, a limited number of buses and wingers resumed transportation of passengers on the highway in November.

All the passengers travelling on these limited number of buses and wingers are Nagas, Meitei Pangals and non-Manipuris.

Moreover, these limited number of passengers vehicles which have been put into service are owned by either Nagas or Meitei Pangals or non-Manipuris.

The drivers of these vehicles are also either Nagas or Meitei Pangals or non-Manipuris.

Kukis have not been allowing vehicles owned by Meiteis to operate on the highway.

Armed Kukis have been checking the documents of all vehicles plying on the highway at three/four points apart from verifying the Aadhaar cards and other identification documents of the passengers.

All Manipur Inter-State Bus and Allied Transport Association, Imphal president Hanjabam Tarunkumar said that private passenger buses resumed operation on Imphal-Senapati-Dimapur highway since November on trial basis.

But no Meitei has travelled on the highway since the passenger services resumed, he said.

All the passengers travelling on the highway are being checked and verified by armed Kukis and Kuki volunteers at Motbung, Saparmeina, Kalapahar and Kangpokpi.

The armed Kukis have also been openly engaging in extortion from the vehicles plying on the highway, he said.

He remarked that the Government's initiative to resume passenger bus services on Imphal-Dimapur highway by deploying additional security forces is a positive step.

Tarunkumar urged the Government to ensure that the vehicles and passengers moving on the highway are not subjected to any undue harassment.

With all the buses and other passenger vehicles owned by Meiteis not allowed to ply on the highways, specially Imphal-Dimapur highway, their source of livelihood has been severely jeopardised.

There are just around 10 Meiteis who own inter-State buses.

Now, most of the inter-State buses are owned by non-Manipuris.

Earlier, there were around 25 ticket counters of inter-State bus service at North AOC but 18 of them have been shut down, Tarunkumar said.

Notably, the ITLF and CoTU demanded the State Government to withdraw its order of resuming passenger bus services on Imphal-Senapati and Imphal-Churchandpur routes.

The Kuki bodies also warned that the Government should be held responsible for any untoward incident if the Government went ahead with its order.

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