Home » Erecting cross at Thangjing a tactic to anger the indigenous communities

Erecting cross at Thangjing a tactic to anger the indigenous communities

by Rinku Khumukcham
0 comment 3 minutes read
Erecting cross at Thangjing a tactic to anger the indigenous communities

The installation of a cross atop a hill near Manipur’s Moirang town has sparked controversy and tension in the region, particularly among the Meitei community who consider the hill sacred. The hill, known as Thangjing Hill, is revered by the Meitei community as the home of the deity Ibudhou Thangjing, with a belief that the site is ancient. Experts suggest that the site was worshiped earlier by the Koireng community, another indigenous group of Manipur. The act of installing the cross on the hill, seen as destabilizing in the violence-hit state, has exacerbated existing tensions, particularly in light of previous conflicts related to the area. Earlier, the creation of the Thangting sub-division (now Kangvai sub-division) by Manipur’s Congress government in 2015 resulted in communal friction among different communities.
Indeed, the erection of the cross atop Thangjing Hill has the potential to escalate into a situation akin to the Ram Janmabhoomi issue, which historically sparked communal tensions across India. The symbolic significance attached to religious sites and the deeply held beliefs of different communities can quickly escalate into larger conflicts if not addressed with sensitivity and understanding. Just as the Ram Janmabhoomi dispute ignited communal tensions and led to significant unrest, the erection of the cross at Thangjing Hill could similarly exacerbate existing tensions and fuel further communal divisions in Manipur and beyond.
The erection of a cross atop Thangjing Hill and the subsequent renaming of the location as ‘Mount Olive’ is viewed by indigenous communities as a violation of their culture, tradition, and religion. Furthermore, it is seen as a disregard for the decree issued by the Supreme Court on December 16, 2023, which aimed to protect the holy sites of indigenous peoples. The act has drawn condemnation not only from the affected communities but also from followers of the Christian faith, who believe such actions tarnish the image of their religion.
We should also note that the incidents of attacks on Meitei temples in Kuki-dominated areas since 2019 paint a troubling picture of religious violence and vandalism. Beginning with the vandalism at a Meitei Temple in Cheiraoching in March 2019, followed by similar acts of vandalism at Kondong Lairembi Temple in Moreh in January 2020, and arson at Koubru Leikha Temple in Kangpokpi in April 2020, the trend continued with further instances of vandalism at Kounu Temple in Leimakhong in October 2020. These acts of aggression culminated in the desecration of Pakhangba Temple in March 2023, both at Cheiraoching Hills and later at Churachandpur in April 2023 just before the eruption of the ongoing communal violence in May. Against this backdrop of recurring violence, the recent erection of a cross at Thangjing Hill, while not unprecedented, adds to the ongoing tension surrounding sacred sites. These incidents underscore the urgent need for concerted efforts to promote religious tolerance, safeguard cultural heritage, and prevent further escalation of violence.
The continuous disturbances and destructions inflicted upon sites like Koubru and Thangjing hills, which are protected under The Manipur Ancient & Historical Monuments and Archaeological Sites & Remains Act, 1976, highlight a failure on the part of both the state and central governments to enforce the law effectively. The lack of action against those responsible for the illegal erection of the cross on Thangjing Hill raises questions about the government’s role in the matter. It is imperative for the authorities to address these concerns promptly and firmly, ensuring the protection of sacred sites and upholding the rule of law. Failure to do so not only undermines the rights and beliefs of indigenous communities but also undermines the integrity of the legal system and erodes trust in governance.

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Imphal Times is a daily English newspaper published in Imphal and is registered with Registrar of the Newspapers for India with Regd. No MANENG/2013/51092


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