Home » The North East demands more attention of the Centre : A focus on Manipur crisis and a referrence to Meghalaya

The North East demands more attention of the Centre : A focus on Manipur crisis and a referrence to Meghalaya

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The North East demands more attention of the Centre : A focus on Manipur crisis and a referrence to Meghalaya

By – Bidyujjyoti Purkayastha
On being convinced that the North Eastern Region is backward in comparison with the other parts of the country, the Central Govt. has created a separate Ministry known as the Ministry for the Development of the North Eastern Region (DoNER). But this is not enough. The Centre needs to be more attentive towards the details of the North East. The current happenings in the state of Manipur invite special attention of the Centre.
It appears in the media that Mr. N. Biren Sing, the Manipur CM while launching the 1700 Crore Ring Road Project at Imphal on 29 January last said ‘We have been passing through a very difficult time but this is not the first time we have been passing through such situations. More than one thousand people lost their lives in 1992-93 in the ethnic clashes’. He further added ‘We have been fighting against such forces, who want to break the state, that has a history of more than two thousand years. For more than nine months the people of the state are not in a position to sleep peacefully. More than three thousand State Security personnel have been posted in the sensitive spots’. He appealed to the people to maintain peace. ‘It is our fundamental duty to save and protect Manipur’. The Chief Minister claimed that during the last six months the situations have tremendously improved. The relations between the police and the people have also improved. The speech concluded with the details of the Ring Road Project.
The media also reveals another significant development that ten Kuki ZO MLAs of the Manipur Assembly have raised their voice for separate administration. Amongst the ten MLAs seven belong to the BJP. With due respect to the Constitution of India they have demanded the separation. These ten MLAs have expressed their desire to discuss the problems of Manipur with the Hon’ble Prime Minister. They have been waiting for an appointment from the PMO since May, 2023, but not allowed yet.
There have been open meetings and processions and rallies in the neighboring state Mizoram adding fuel to the fire in the crisis of Manipur.
The Manipur crisis started about nine months back and Central Home Minister Mr. Amit Shah rushed to Imphal at the initial stage, while he could realize that it was beyond the ability of the State Govt. to tackle the ethnic crisis of Manipur as the State Govt. itself was the target of the agitators and the Centre’s intervention was an urgent need. The agitations have already taken a violent shape. The fighting groups have lost confidence in the State Govt. and both sides demand the intervention of the Central Govt.
The dispute started with the land policy of the State Govt. The Meithei Manipuri people, though majority own only ten percent of the land of Manipur State while the minority tribal people possess ninety percent of the same. The 1960 Land Act of Manipur does not permit the Meitheis to purchase land in the hill areas but there is no bar for the tribal people to purchase land in the plane areas. The fear of losing roots in their own home state has made the Meitheis hostile, who have been raising their claims and demands more and more vigorously now-a-days. Meanwhile, the High Court of Manipur passed an order directing the Govt. of Manipur to consider the inclusion of the Meithei community in the Scheduled Tribe List, which triggered violence throughout the state, that immediately took a very serious shape.
The armed agitators attacked both civilians and the security forces. Many people lost their lives. The violence was sudden and unprecedented. Either the state intelligence totally failed or the Govt. ignored the intelligence reports or the Govt. failed to tackle the situation. Both the majority and the minority people felt unsafe in their own places and leaving behind their homes they took refuse in the neighboring states, in shelter camps.
Mr. Rahul Gandhi, the Opposition Leader visited Manipur and expressed sympathy for the sufferers and criticized PM Modi for not visiting Manipur at this crucial moment and fleeing from his responsibilities as a Prime Minister.
The Govt. needs to be correctly aware of the exact quantum of arms, ammunition, ration and fund in the hands of the armed agitators or terrorists. Any operation may result in tremendous bloodshed and loss of lives. This is the reason why the Central Govt. is not mentally prepared to start any action right now. The recent attack upon the security forces at Moreh is an indication of what may happen more vigorously in the days to come. Infiltration and international smuggling have been the most important factors that dominate the local situations in the international border. Not only Manipur even Mizoram, Myanmar and China too have their vested interests. The Union Home Minister has recently proposed construction of fencing in the international border with Myanmar, which has caused serious repercussions amongst those having vested interests. The Chief Minister of Mizoram has openly expressed his reactions against the construction of the proposed fencing in the border with Myanmar. His logic is that the people on both sides are relatives and have same language and same culture. So, they should not be separated by fencing. His opinion is rather highly philosophical and resembles what Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore said in one of his poems in the Geetanjali “Where the world has not been broken up into fragments by narrow domestic walls”.
Absence of fencing, as a matter of fact helps both infiltration and exfiltration, easy smuggling and convenient terrorism.
Now the question arises, whether it will be possible for the Govt. of India to construct the fencing as proposed by the Union Home Minister Mr. Shah. I doubt very much. My personal experience is that the Centre has no guts to take any strong action against a State Govt. if it does not provide the encumbrances free land for the construction of the proposed fencing. Only 6.920 km of land free from encumbrances from Dona BOP to Jalalpur BOP in the East Jaintia Hills District of Meghalaya required for the completion of an NEC Road could not be available, which was also assured by the Hon’ble Prime Minister few years back when he visited Shillong for election campaign. The Meghalaya Govt. did not provide the land required for the purpose in-spite of continuous correspondences by the NEC. I have got all records in my hand. None can deny the foul play. There is another example. The Prime Minister made a declaration on 6th August, 2023 at 11.00 A.M. by Video Conference that the ‘Indian Railways shall reach all the State Capitals of the North Eastern Region this year’. I, being a resident of the neighboring state of Assam know it well that the Meghalaya Govt. has not provided land for the purpose which had already appeared in the media. I wrote to the Railway Ministry through the PMO for clarification reminding them of the Prime Minister’s declaration and asking about the availability of land from the Govt. of Meghalaya. The truth was disclosed thereafter. Mr. A.K. Verma, the Joint Director / Gati Shakti (Civil)-III, Railway Board in his letter No. 2023/W-1/NER/PMO/Ref/BP, dated 07/11/2023 addressing this humble author disclosed that two line projects have been taken up simultaneously for connecting Shillong : 1. Tetelia-Byrnihat (22 km) and 2. Byrnihat-Shillong (108 km). But land could not be available due to objection raised by the Khasi Students’ Union (KSU). Several correspondences have been made and meetings have been held with the State Govt. of Meghalaya, the KSU and even with the Chief Secretary and the Director General of Police of Meghalaya. But the matter still remains unsolved.
Mr. Amit Shah’s proposal for fencing in India’s border with Myanmar is genuine and justified. But will the Central Govt. be able to construct the fencing if the Govt. of Mizoram declines to provide the land required for the construction of the proposed fencing as the Meghalaya Govt. has not yet provided the land required for the construction of the Railway lines and the Centre is silent and indifferent, rather helpless!
In conclusion I would like to recall that prior to 2014 the Meghalaya Govt. and the people of Meghalaya could not celebrate the Republic Day and the Independence Day. The KSU used to declare Band on these two red letter days obviously to defy and dishonour the Indian sovereignty. Only since Mr. Narendra D. Modi took over as the Prime Minister of India in 2014, such open anti-state activities stopped and it is quite known to one and all that no legal step was taken against the KSU for such anti-state activities.
The Centre should give due attention and serious thoughts to the aforesaid facts and circumstances for the sake the country’s integrity.
As park neglected burns the house.

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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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