IMPHAL, Oct 16 : Demanding that the status quo of Imphal West district should be maintained and that no parts of Sekmai Assembly Constituency should be incorporated in the proposed Sadar Hills district, thousands of people took out a mass rally at Lamshang today.
After the rally, the Land Protection Committee of Sekmai Assembly Constituency which organised the rally, submitted a memorandum to Chief Minister Okram Ibobi.
The rally started from two points simultaneously, one from Kangchup foothills and another from Khurkhul.
After converging at Lamshang, the rally headed for Imphal but the rallyists were blocked by police near Lamshang police station.
After a brief altercation, the cops and the protesters agreed that five members of the committee would go to the Chief Minister, and they were taken to the Chief Minister’s office by police.
In the meantime, the rallyists held a meeting at Lamshang Khudeiband ground.
Speaking about the rally, former Minister Ningthoujam Biren said that foothills and hillocks located adjacent to Senjam Chirang, Senjam Khunou, Awang Sekmai, Tairenpokpi, Khurkhul, Kadangband, Kangchup and Koutruk were owned by the villagers since time immemorial.
The villagers developed and carried out social forestry in these areas and successfully retained abundant quantity of water.
Kuki people who were displaced by the ethnic-conflict of early 1990’s were given asylum by the village elders.
After the displaced people made their settlements in these areas, they started large scale lumbering and unrestrained exploitation of natural resources, consequent upon which many villages are now facing scarcity of water, Biren said.
Today’s rally was organised as the villagers sensed certain apprehension that some villages or parts of them would be incorporated in the proposed Sadar Hills district, he conveyed.
“We don’t see any community as our enemy.We have no problem in living together but if the present villagers are affected in the creation of Sadar Hills district, it would lead to unwanted events”, Biren cautioned.
He cited the recent incident where Haraothel Vaiphei village claimed the abode of Koutruk sylvan deity as theirs.
All these areas intended to be incorporated in Sadar Hills districts are under Imphal West district as per the official land records.
Another order of the Manipur State Durbar clearly defined that these areas located around the above mentioned villages were owned by the villagers.
The design to incorporate certain areas of Sekmai AC in Sadar Hills district was a clear case of encroachment or immigrants taking over land from the natives, he noted.
The committee’s general secretary W Jotin said that the proposed Sadar Hills district would affect 50 per cent of the geographical area of Sekmai AC.
In the last ADC elections, polling was conducted in many areas of Sekmai AC.
He further informed that a representation has been submitted to the Committee on Re-Organisation of Administrative and Police District Boundaries.
Source: The Sangai Express