Waari Singbul Network
Imphal, Feb 3:
Thangjing Hills, home to the sacred site of Ibudhou Thangjing, witnessed another desecration as miscreants erected a substantial cross. Intriguingly, this structure was erected under the watch of heavily armed cadres from the Zomi Revolutionary Army (ZRA), a Kuki-Zo militant group. The ZRA is presently operating under a Suspension of Operation (SoO) agreement with the government of India and Manipur, obliging them to remain at designated camps with their weapons securely locked away.
This disturbing incident occurred on January 25, raising concerns about the potential exacerbation of the ongoing ethnic strife that has plagued the state with violence since May 3, 2023. The historical significance of Thangjing Hill to the Meitei community intensifies the gravity of this desecration, traditionally regarded as a holy pilgrimage site
The desecration took place despite the Supreme Court’s proactive measures to secure places of worship in Manipur. The court issued directives on September 25, 2023, aimed at safeguarding religious buildings and properties in the state, especially during the ethnic violence that unfolded during that period.
A Supreme Court-appointed panel emphasized the urgency for the Government of Manipur to identify and protect all religious buildings in the state, including churches and Hindu temples. This move came as a response to the widespread vandalism of 386 religious structures over the course of the ethnic violence in the state.
The panel further directed the state to ensure the protection of properties belonging to displaced individuals, highlighting the need to shield them from any acts of violence. This comprehensive approach aimed to secure both religious sites and the properties of affected communities.
The Manipur government, in compliance with the Supreme Court’s directives, was expected to bring out a proposal or response to address the protection of places of worship and properties. The court reiterated these directions in December 2023, underlining the significance of securing religious sites in Manipur.
Despite legal mandates and the Supreme Court’s intervention, the Thangjing Hills desecration highlights challenges in implementing and enforcing measures to protect religious sites in the state.
The involvement of the sophisticatedly armed Kuki-Zo militant group, Zomi Revolutionary Army (ZRA), in the desecration adds a layer of complexity to the situation. ZRA’s violation of the Suspension of Operation (SoO) agreement, witnessed during the construction and consecration of the cross, raises concerns about the group’s influence and disregard for legal frameworks as well as it contravenes international conventions on religious freedom. This aspect intensifies the gravity of the incident and necessitates a comprehensive investigation into the group’s actions and its impact on the religious landscape of Manipur.
The Supreme Court’s directives were crafted to prevent such encroachments and safeguard the sanctity of religious sites amidst rising concerns over potential law and order disruptions in the state. The Thangjing Hills incident underscores the importance of swift and decisive action to address the desecration and preserve the cultural and religious heritage of both the warring communities in the state, particularly during the unending ethnic strife.