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COCOMI condemns Manipur bridge blast, demands NIA probe 

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Guwahati, April 24: The Coordinating Committee on Manipur Integrity (COCOMI), a conglomerate of civil society organisations of Manipur, has demanded a comprehensive probe by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) into the bomb explosion that damaged a crucial bridge along the Asian Highway 1 (National Highway 2) late Tuesday evening.

“This vital arterial bridge connects India with Myanmar, serving as a lifeline for 3.5 million local people, and also for trade and connectivity throughout Southeast Asia. The targeted area was within the Christian Kuki-dominated Kangpokpi district in Manipur,” COCOMI said in a statement issued on Wednesday.

Notably, the incident occurred just a couple of days ahead of the second phase of the Lok Sabha elections scheduled in the Outer Manipur Lok Sabha constituency on April 26.

“Regrettably, this bombing isn’t an isolated event; a similar attack occurred in the Kwakta areas of Churachandpur district border area on June 21, 2023. The National Investigation Agency (NIA) had previously investigated the incident, leading to the detention and several individuals associated with Kuki narco-terrorist groups were apprehended,” it said.

“Adding to the distress, was the gunfire that damaged the LPG and petroleum tankers along National Highway 37, specifically in the Kaimai area under Tamenglong district, on April 16, 2024, resulting in oil and gas leakages and injuries to several drivers. The perpetrators behind this attack identified themselves as the United Kuki National Army (UKNA), even issuing threats of further violence, challenging the government’s authority and the Meitei community,” the committee said.

“The deceitful tactics employed by purported Kuki groups are deeply troubling, especially their attempts to shift blame onto unrelated entities. Considering the remote location of the blast site, deeply entrenched within Kuki-controlled territory, it’s implausible for anyone outside the Kuki community to operate in the area,” it said.

“This reprehensible act amounts to a blatant war crime. Moreover, it is crucial to acknowledge the complex dynamics of the region, characterised by extensive opium cultivation, illegal village expansions, and an influx of undocumented immigrants from Myanmar. Furthermore, it serves as a hub for Chin-Kuki narco-terrorist groups, operating under the guise of a suspension of operation agreement with the Government of India,” the committee stated.

“In the light of these grave circumstances, COCOMI demands an immediate and comprehensive investigation into the incident and the case should be handed over to the NIA by the state government without delay, to ensure justice for the affected 3.5 million residents of the state,” it said.

IANS

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