THE HARAOTHEL BIKINI

/ Guest Column / Sunday, 25 October 2020 17:41

By WL Hangshing

Apropos article by RK Nimai dt. 20-10-2020. 

The postulate in the above article is like a bikini that only manages to conceal the vital issues.
It is agreed that the address of the NSU being of Kangpokpi District or of Imphal West District should not be an issue. Either ways, it is situated in Manipur and the physical and geographical parameters of the complex remains unaltered regardless of the postal address. 
However, it has been made into a big deal by the valley protagonists such as R K Nimai.
The above postulate ( that Haraothel belongs to Imphal) banks heavily on certain  Darbar resolutions of 1928-32. The relevant vital details of such resolutions that could directly be relatable to the Leimakhong area are cleverly not offered for viewing. It is concealed by the bikini and therefore what it conceals has to remain in the realm of conjecture and regarded as unreliable for evidentiary purpose. However, even if for a moment, for the sake of argument, it is conceded that those Darbar resolutions bear a direct reference to the Leimakhong foothills as being of valley forests and not Hill forests, isn’t it a confirmation of the fact that the Imphal Darbar had jurisdiction only of the Imphal Valley and not the Hills, and it was a need and an attempt to extend its jurisdiction into the lower foothills which implies that those areas were not in its legitimate jurisdiction otherwise; that the idea of Manipur in 1928-32 was confined only to the Valley? This whole argument flies in the face of the bigger idea of Modern and present Manipur being inclusive of all hill areas too and that it should not be an issue as to whether the postal address of an institute is in Imphal West or East or Bishenpur or Thoubal or whether it is Kangpokpi or Churachandpur of Chandel. Now please tell as to who are the ones into parochialisation of the idea of Manipur and turning it into an exclusive club of the Valley and its pats and pattas.
Nimai cleverly mentions that those foothills were not populated and that therefore the darbar went ahead with ‘khajinba’ of the land by a resolution. It must be noted that in the 1920s, which is a hundred years ago, the population of the entire region of Manipur would hardly have been 4-5 lakhs. Not to talk of the hills, even the valley was underpopulated. Even just 20 years ago, the whole of Chingmeirong, Koirengei, Pheidinga were unpopulated with only pats, storm-waters and open grasslands. Nevertheless, the hill areas and valley areas have always been clearly demarcated, even by their very geographical characteristics. It is admitted by Nimai that hill tribes came to occupy these lands in course of time. If the darbar could demarcate, without jurisdiction, a piece of hill land under pattas (which evidence is yet to be presented), the fact of its subsequent occupation by the hill tribes is an even stronger evidence of the land being in possession of the Hill tribes. In any case, it is still in Manipur and as long as there is no argument on that issue, it should not be a problem. However Nimai seems to be stuck in the subconscious vortex of the valley, that essentially it is the valley and its pats that constitutes Manipur. Now please tell as to who is responsible for the emotional disintegration of Manipur, who is responsible for expousing the idea that Manipur is synonymous only with the valley and constitutes only the Imphal valley and its valley people.
The district records in Senapati and now Kangpokpi, clearly show the Lailon Vaiphei/Haraothel area as being in the jurisdiction of the Hill District of Sadar Hills, and correctly so by the very nature of its geography. Kangpokpi District was earlier demarcated as Sadar Hills to cover the hill areas surrounding the valley areas and demarcated for special area development. It was constitutionally sanctified and will thus override all other previous demarcations including such claims as based on erstwhile Durbar resolutions. In any case, that it was unpopulated in 1920 is no ground for legitimising the ‘khajinba’ by the darbar, which in any case is now defunct and non-est for all considerations. For that matter even the surrounding valley areas were unpopulated and uncultivated at that time. What is sauce for gander is also for goose!
It is a trend in the modern era for Police station jurisdictions to overlap district boundaries for convenience of communication and proximity of certain foothill areas. These are merely for administrative convenience and should not be used to override issues relating to constitutionally sanctified boundaries demarcating hill areas from the valley. There cannot be loose permissibility in respect of certain rights and protection that have been sanctioned for hill tribes and hill areas. There is also a modern trend of issuing revenue pattas to certain demarcated hill areas only because of the accompanying benefit of value-certification of the land. This also should not be an argument to change the basic and fundamental character of the land being of Hill areas. Some administrative reforms are required in this subject. This is one of the basic cause of the skewed political representation in favour of the valley. Many of the hill areas and its voters are eventually absorbed into adjoining Valley Assembly constituencies and are eventually lost to the political balance of the hills. 
It is not just about Haraothel. The issue is more insidious and deep rooted and if not corrected it will only accentuate the Hill/Valley divide, it will perpetuate disparities, neglect and economic subjugation.
Nimai’s reference to Mr Kathing, Mr Tiankham, old and new Kukis has no relevance to the issue at hand and can be nothing but mischief mongering.
The NSU is an institute that will be treasured by all in Manipur. It is not meant to be the exclusive preserve of the valley to the extent that the address being appended as Kangpokpi becomes allergic and an anathema to the valley. It is still in the same location and in Manipur. It will still be Haraothel. Kangpokpi District, is a district of Manipur and the term Kangpokpi itself is meiteilon! 
One may contemplate as to who is otherwise responsible for the emotional disintegration of Manipur. Who is the actual advocate of ‘eigi, nanggi’!

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