TODAY -

Kuki-Zo community mourns village volunteer
Source: Chronicle News Service

Kangpokpi, April 28 2024: Amidst the 12-hour total shutdown enforced by the Committee on Tribal Unity in Kangpokpi district, hundreds of Kuki-Zo men and women, draped in mournful black, gathered to honour a "Kuki-Zo village volunteer" as they laid him to rest at the Martyrs' Cemetery in Phaijang village on Sunday.

A 45-year-old father of five children, Lammang Kipgen, a Kuki-Zo village volunteer, was killed during a gunfight with Meetei village volunteers early Sunday morning at Bethel village in the fringe of Leimakhong-Kangchup region.

The burial ceremony for the village volunteer was conducted under the auspices of the Committee on Tribal Unity (CoTU), Kangpokpi district, which was attended by various prominent Kuki-Zo leaders, civil society organisations, as well as the bereaved family and their loved ones.

Following the killing of the village volunteer, CoTU enforced a 12-hour total shutdown from Sunday noon till midnight across the entire Kangpokpi district.

All business establishments downed their shutters during the total shutdown, while the typically bustling National Highway 2 wore a deserted look as vehicular movement came to a standstill, except for emergency services such as medical, airport, and media, which were exempted from the shutdown.

On the sidelines of the burial ceremony, CoTU media cell coordinator Ng Lun Kipgen said, "Kuki-Zo have placed our existence to survive from the "Jaws of Death" in the hands of our Central Security Forces, but today, we just buried one of our braveheart volunteers who gave his life for our tomorrow following the withdrawal of the central forces".

He continued, "What baffles us now is why these central security forces were withdrawn from all fringe areas when the conflict is still ongoing.

He pointed out that central security forces were initially withdrawn from certain fringe areas before the Lok Sabha polls, citing election duties and following a bomb blast near Saparmeina along NH-2, vehemently condemned by several Kuki-Zo bodies, more withdrawals took place in most of the Sadar Hills fringe areas.

He recalled that after exit of the central forces, a two-day gun battle broke out in Phaileng-Luwangsanggol border area of Kangpokpi on April 23 followed by another gunfight in fringe areas of L Khonomphai, Wakan, and Sinam Kom in Saikul region on April 26 .

He also recalled that prior to Sunday morning's attack, on Saturday evening, women and children from Kharam Vaiphei and L Phaijang villages in Kangchup-Leimakhong were evacuated to safer places due to an ambush on the Kuki-Zo village volunteers in Lambung area.

He further alleged that Meetei armed groups fired bullets towards Phaileng-Luwangsanggol on Saturday evening, with no casualties reported and additionally, residents observed militants advancing toward Gamgiphai after central security forces withdrew.

He said that the pressing issue at hand is who will be held accountable for any untoward incidents following the exit of central security forces, leaving a void in the buffer zones.

He also said that power comes with responsibility and accountability; with out them, it becomes a total "Banana Republic," and he asked, "How much more of our blood needs to be shed for the Kuki-Zo to eventually prove our patriotism?" .


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