For a day, Manipur forgets blockade and celebrates [Economic Times]

IMPHAL: The markets were buzzing with excited revellers, many haggling over the price of fish, and there was excited chatter at homes as people prepared various cuisines, all in celebration of Ningol Chakouba, one of Manipur’s biggest festivals that came on Friday amid the trauma of an economic blockade.

Ningol Chakouba reinstates the bond between brothers and sisters. Married women are invited to their parental home and pampered with lipsmacking dishes, which mostly constitute fish, and gifts.

Although the economic blockade has reached nearly 90 days now and household commodities continue to be scarce and expensive, people have refused to let their spirits be dampened, even if that means toning down celebrations by a notch.

“Fish is a very important part of the Ningol Chakouba festivities. We cook different fish delicacies… and by god’s grace, that is something which we have not really run short of. Manipur is blessed with good fish production,” Sharmila Maibam, a homemaker, told IANS.

“My daughter, who got married last year, will be visiting us today and we have prepared a feast for her. My son has bought her a sari and other trinkets. It’s a happy occasion,” she smiled.

To liven up festivities, the state fishery department on Thursday organised a temporary fish market at a playground, Imphal Hapta Kangjeibung, to sell fish at cheaper rates. It was attended by thousands of people.

In addition, an angling competition was organised for the first time at the Kakching lake in the foothills of the state on Thursday.

Madhu Chandra, one of the organisers of the festival, said: “Ningol Chakouba is a very important festival of the Manipuris. Amid the misery of the blockade, we decided to organise this festival to encourage the people to have some fun and promote peace and brotherhood.”

“We had around 700 competitors from all over the state and over 10,000 people from Kakching and surrounding villages witnessed the event. The fishes were then sold to the people,” he added.

One of the specie most in demand is the indigenous Pengba. This is also being farmed at the Kakching lake.

“I bought a variety of fish yesterday, but more than anything, my sisters love the Pengba. Both of them are married and live out of Manipur, so they miss eating this more than anything else,” Mahesh Laba, a 26-year-old salesman, said. He, however, still had some last minute shopping to do at the Khwairamband bazaar.

“The market’s so crowded today! People seem to have forgotten that we are in the middle of some blockade and are celebrating wholeheartedly… I have come to pick up some bangles for my sisters,” Laba said.

“This festival means a lot to us, especially for my family, because it’s like an annual family reunion when my sisters come home. They dress up in their traditional best and I serve them food… after which they bless me. It’s a special time,” he smiled.

“Thank god, there is no dearth of fish,” said 50-year-old Amu Singha. “I went to the fish market yesterday and was happy to see that I could still rustle up a good lunch for my daughter, even though the other things, like sweets, have to be toned down because they are so expensive.”

As for the women, they too bought gifts for their families, and especially their brothers, before going home. “Things are so expensive now. But I have been saving for sometime. So I bought clothes for my parents and brother, and got some homemade sweets,” said Nira Singha, a homemaker, on her way home to celebrate the festival.

Source: Economictimes.indiatimes.com

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Indigenous fishes in short supply at the State Fish fair [Hueiyen Lanpao]

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Fishes on display in one of the stall at Hapta kangjeibung Fish exibition

Imphal, October 27: The State Fish fair organized by the Fishery Department on the eve of Ningol Chakkouba, at Hatta Kangjeibung, Palace Compound, today witnessed a scarce supply of Ngaton and Prawn, and many people went away disappointed at not being able to get a taste of these rare indigenous fishes.

After the inauguration of the Fish fair, most of the people who came to the fair thronged the stalls where Pengba and Ngaton were sold. As the saying goes “Early bird catches the worm”, those few buyers who came in early were able to buy Pengba and Ngaton, while many others who came a bit later went back disappointed. Some of the Pengbas were sold alive in a polythene bag of water, which were on average of smaller sizes.

The inaugural function of the Fish Fair was graced by Md Allaudin Khan, Minister, Fisheries and RK Sukumar, Secretary, Fisheries as the Chief Guest and President respectively. K Sarat kumar, Director, Fisheries and Devendra, retired Director, Fisheries, GoM were the Guests of Honour.
Speaking on the occasion, Minister Md Allaudin said that with the increase in population the production of local fish needs to be increased.  Since the production of fish in the state is far behind the demand of the state, a large quantity of fish is being imported from other states.

With the advancement in science and technology, scientific methods are also being used in the state by fish farmers. And gradually the production rate is also increasing. In the next few years the fish production in the state will hopefully be able to meet all the demands of the state, he said.

He further went on to say that the quantity of fish which is brought in to the state has been reduced to a considerable level due to the ongoing economic blockade on all NHs of the state. But still, the demand is being met by the local production. This shows that the production of fish in the state is increasing.

The state is 9 metric tones short of the daily requirements of fish. To make up the shortage, fish farmers of the state need to use advance technology. The state, on its part, will also try its level best to solve the problem. To encourage the fish farmers of the state, the price for this year Fish Crop Competition has been increased, he said.

Speaking on the occasion, K Sarat Kumar, Director Fisheries, said that the Fish Fair has been organized on the eve of Ningol Chakkouba since 1976 to make available fish to the general public at reasonable rates. There are 65 stalls participating in today’s fair.

Source: Hueiyen Lanpao

 

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UNC flays [The Sangai Express]

IMPHAL, Oct 25 : The UNC has asserted that it has received reports about supporters of Sadar Hills Districthood Demand Committee forcing educational institu- tions, Naga villages and non-Kuki villages in Sadar Hills and Saitu sub-divisions to participate in rallies, economic blockade and other programme for demanding Sadar Hills district against their wishes.
A press release issued by the UNC asked individuals/organisations concerned to desist from such acts of coercion which has no place in democracy.

Such unacceptable acts would only create greater rift on communal lines.

The further advised the targeted institutions and villages to be vigilant and firmly oppose such impositions and refrain from participating in any such ‘communally designed programmes’.

Source: The Sangai Express

 

SHDDC to intensify blockade [Hueiyen Lanpao]

Imphal, October 24: With the talks between the government and the SHDDC cancelled today as members of the SHDDC failing to turn up as scheduled, the SHDDC has further resolved to continue and intensify the economic blockade.
Talks between the government and the SHDDC led by Thakam, VP SHDDC and Tonghen Kipgen, Secretary, SHDDC were held on Oct 23 starting from 9:30 pm and went on till 11:40 pm, where it was decided to continue the meeting today. Coming out of the meeting Tonghen Kiphen talking to media persons had sounded positive raising hopes of some kind of settlement. But all hopes were shattered as the delegation of SHDDC members and various CSOs failed to even turn up for the talks today.

A statement issued to the press jointly signed by Tonghen Kipgen, General Secretary and Ngamkhohao Haokip, President of SHDDC said that even after seven rounds of talks with the Hon’ble Chief Minister of Manipur, the Manipur Government could not come up with any concrete decision to inaugurate Sadar Hills as a full-fledged Autonomous District which has been pending for the last 40 years.

The Chief Minister himself has time and again promised before the media that he will solve the problem of Sadar Hills district within two months starting from August amidst hopes and expectations of the Sadar Hills people. However, he has failed to translate his own words into action, the statement said.

It further said that considering all these reasons the SHDDC has finally resolved to continue with the economic blockade along the two National highways with renewed intensity even during election and thereafter. Public rallies within Sadar Hills and general strikes throughout the State will be organised to press the Government for realisation of the demand for Districthood. As decided earlier, all Government functions, election campaigns and all forms of electioneering will to be banned in Sadar Hills.

It earnestly appealed to the people of Manipur and State Level Kut Committee not to organise Kut celebration on the 1st November 2011 and desist from organising the celebration in all the Hill districts of Manipur, particularly in Sadar Hills. It is also regretted that the auspicious occasion of Kut celebration could neither be participated nor organised by the Sadar Hills people in all its solemnity and gaiety.

The press release further expressed its regret to the people of Manipur for causing hardships following the long economic blockade imposed by SHDDC due to mis-governance and indifferent attitude of the State Government toward the people of Sadar Hills for 40 years.

Meanwhile, reports reaching here at Hueiyen Lanpao said that in the meeting which was convened yesterday, the delegates of SHDDC members and various CSOs had demanded the conversion of Sadar Hills into a full fledged district before the coming state assembly elections where the CM responded that it will be done after the election and also proposed to the delegates to sign a MOU with the government in the regard. The response and proposals of the Chief Minister were discussed at an executive meeting held at an unknown place today.

Source: Hueiyen Lanpao

 

NEPO concerned over blockade impact [Hueiyen Lanpao]

Imphal, October 24: North East People’s Organisation (NEPO), Manipur Chapter has expressed serious concern over the hardships being faced by the people on account of the prolonged economic blockade of SHDDC and the counter blockade of UNC.
In a statement, Convenor of NEPO Manipur Chapter K Chingkham pointed out that it is the common people who have been hit hardest by the ongoing economic blockade and counter blockade. Such agitations hardly make any difference to Ministers and officials who continue to get permit for oil. But the common people have to stand in long queue at the oil pumps just to get a few litres of petrol. Moreover, through arbitrary hike in the prices of essential commodities, unscrupulous traders have been trying to fleece the people of their hard earned money by taking advance of the situation. However, genuine a demand may be, it would be advisable on the part of SHDDC and UNC to relax their respective economic blockade and counter blockade every now and then in the larger interest of the suffering public.

On the other hand, bandh, blockade or any other restrictions are normally relaxed in the run up to any major festivals like Christmas, Kut and Ramjan but the manner of intensifying the ongoing blockade and counter blockade just ahead of Ningol Chakkouba of the Meiteis scheduled to be celebrated on October 26 may not be a wise decision. So, in the event of any untoward incidents, those who are behind the ongoing economic blockade and counter blockade should be held responsible, the statement of the NEPO Manipur chapter categorically added.

Source: Hueiyen Lanpao

 

SHDDC takes a U turn on talk Govt’s assurance of ‘after election’ fails to cut ice, stir to intensify [The Sangai Express]

Members of SHDDC and other civil society organisations arrive to meet the CM last night (Oct 23)

Members of SHDDC and other civil society organisations arrive to meet the CM last night (Oct 23)

IMPHAL, Oct 24 : Even as a Ministerial team was waiting for a dialogue with Sadar Hills Districthood Demand Committee (SHDDC) today, none of the committee members turned up for the scheduled dialogue.
Talking to The Sangai Express, SHDDC general secretary Tonghen Kipgen   informed that a meeting of the committee was held today and it decided not to go for the dialogue as the committee has lost whatever faith it reposed in the Government on account of its repeated failure to fulfil its assurances given earlier including last night’s meeting.

Meanwhile, a press release issued by SHDDC informed that the ongoing economic blockade on the two National Highways would be intensified even during and after the elections.

Public rallies within Sadar Hills and general strikes throughout the State would be organised to press the Government for realisation of the demand for districthood.

As decided earlier, all Government functions, election campaigns and all forms of electioneering would remain banned in Sadar Hills, it conveyed.

SHDDC members held a meeting with the Chief Minister last night in the presence of representatives of several civil society organisations.

The meeting which went on till late night was terminated after the two sides agreed to continue the meeting at 3 pm today.

As agreed last night, the Chief Minister, some Cabinet Ministers, the Chief Secretary and other high-ranking Government offi- cials were waiting for the SHDDC members this afternoon.

On being enquired by The Sangai Express about the failure of the SHDDC members to turn up, Tonghen Kipgen informed that the committee decided to skip the meeting as they have no more faith in the Government.

To another query, the general secretary disclosed that Chief Minister O Ibobi asked for six months after the 10th Manipur Legislative Assembly elections in response to their appeal for declaring Sadar Hills a full fledged district before the elections.

It was not only yesterday’s assurance, many other similar assurances given earlier were never put into action, Tonghen said.

Keeping faith in the State Government’s assurance to grant district status to Sadar Hills after inauguration of Kangpokpi mini- secretariat, the SHDDC waited for two years.

But after completion of the mini-secretariat complex, the Government was only buying more and more time.

It was such dilly-dallying tactics of the Govern- ment which compelled the SHDDC to launch the present phase of agitation.

The Chief Minister gave another assurance to initiate the official process of declaring Sadar Hills a full fledged district after the Committee on Reorganisation of Administrative Police Boundaries submit its report after two months.

Though the committee has completed two months, nothing substantial has been taken up by the Government towards fulfilling the long cherished demand of Sadar Hills people, Tonghen lamented.

Such continuous betrayal by the Chief Minister has only robbed the people off whatever faith they had in the assurances given by the Government.

As the committee too has little faith in the Government, it decided not to go for the scheduled meeting with the Government.

On the other hand, the committee during the meeting with Government last night, proposed creation three more sub-divisions in addition to the existing three sub-divisions of Sadar Hills.

The newly proposed sub-divisions were T Waichong sub-division (to be separated from Kangpokpi sub-division), Changningpokpi sub-division (to be created from Saikul sub-division) and Kangchup-Geljang sub-division (to be separated from Saitu-Gamphazol sub-division).

Source: The Sangai Express

SHDDC talk fails to materialise [Imphal Free Press]

IMPHAL October 24 : Post talks between the SHDDC and the Chief Minister yesterday, the public hopes that the scheduled talk between the two sides which was supposed to be held today may have a positive outcome fell short.

The proposed meeting failed to take place despite the assurance given by SHDDC general secretary Tonghen Kipgen to media persons late last night.

A press release signed by Tonghen Kipgen and president of SHDDC Ngamkhohao stated that even after seven rounds of talk with the Chief Minister, the Manipur government is still not able to come out with any concrete decision to inaugurate Sadar Hills as a full-fledged autonomous district which has been pending for the last 40 years.

It further stated that the Chief Minister on August 25 and September 1, had assured the Sadar Hills Districthood Demand Committee that he will fulfill the demand within a period of two months, even though the state cabinet has formed a Committee on Re-organisation of Administrative and Police District Boundaries with a term of three months.

The Chief Minister himself has time and again promised before the media that he will solve the problem of Sadar Hills within two months starting from August amidst hopes and expectations for the Sadar Hills people. However, the Chief Minister has not translated his own words into action and his silent stand testifies his insincerity and wavering mind, it added.

Accordingly, the Sadar Hills Districthood Demand Committee has resolved to continue with the economic blockade along the two national highways with more intensity. Furthermore, public rallies within Sadar Hills and general strikes throughout the state will be organised to press the government for realisation of the demand for districthood. As decided earlier, all government functions, election campaigns and all forms of electioneering still continue to be banned in Sadar Hills, it said.

The SHDDC also resolved to earnestly appeal to the people of Manipur and State Level Kut Committee not to organise Kut celebration on the 1st November 2011 and desist from organising the celebration in all the hill districts of Manipur, particularly in Sadar Hills.

It further voiced its regret that the auspicious occasion of Kut celebration could neither be participated nor organised by the Sadar Hills people in all its solemnity and gaiety.

It further expresses regret to the public for causing hardships due to the prolonged economic blockade which it said is due to misgovernance and the indifferent attitude of the state government towards the people of Sadar Hills for 40 years, the statement concluded.

Source: Imphal Free Press

Late night SHDDC talk with Chief Minister remains inconclusive [Imphal Free Press]

IMPHAL, Oct 23: A team led by SHDDC general secretary Tonghem Kipgen and Co-ordinating committee of various valley-based civil organizations, convenor Sunil Karam late in the evening at around 10 pm met with the Chief Minister and submitted a memorandum containing the resolutions taken up by the SHDDC and various other valley based CSOs at Kangpokpi recently.

However, the late night meeting which ended at around 11:45 pm remained inconclusive.

Speaking to media persons, Tonghem Kipgen informed that the team will meet the Chief Minister again tomorrow at 3pm.

On being asked about the sufferings of the people of the state due to the prolonged economic blockade imposed along the national highways, he appealed to the people of the state to bear with the people of the Sadar Hills for a little bit longer.

He also informed that the committee will take its agitation to the next level incase of failure on the part of the government to bring an amicable solution on the issue during tomorrow’s meeting.

Source: Imphal Free Press

Civil Society Organisations threaten with stir in case of govt’s failure to address present hardship [Imphal Free Press]

IMPHAL, October 20: In an attempt to prevent frequent public hardship arising out of blockades, strikes and other forms of agitations, several valley-based civil society organizations today unanimously drafted a number of resolutions urging the government for immediate intervention during any such eventualities.  In the meantime, they have further declared to launch a massive public movement in case the government fails to swiftly respond to their charter of demands.     

The resolution was adopted during a public meet cum discussion on the theme “issues concerning Manipur” held at the Manipur Press club today, jointly organized by the Kangleipak Apunba Lamjing Meira Lup, Porei Leimarol Meira Piabi Apunba Manipur, Apunba Manipur Kanba Ima Lup and Women Action Kangleipak.

KT. Rehman president AMUCO, Professor Amar Yumnam and Professor Ramesh of Manipur University attended the meet as resource persons.

Some of the major organizations that took part in the meeting included National Identity Protection Committee (NIPCO), International Peace and Social Advancement (IPSA), Kangleichal, Yumnaksu, All Manipur United Club Organization, Kanglei Inaat Kanba Lup, Senior Citizens Manipur etc.

The meet has resolve to demand from the government to make alternative arrangements to address the hardships faced by the public due to the scarcity of essential commodities during the frequent imposition of blockades, strikes and other forms of agitations.

They further resolved to urge the government to take up effective measures to control price escalation by implementing relevant acts and revive the price fixation committee and further to established fair price shops in the entire state to ensure wide viability of PDS items.

The meet further resolved to take up measures to stock essential commodities to ensure free flow of essential commodities and to uproot the black market rackets run by some businessmen, which is the main factor of price escalation.

The meet also agreed to urge the government to increase the number trade items from the existing trading items between India and Myanmar and also take up stringent security measures to ensure increase in the trading traffic along the National Highway-2 especially Imphal to Moreh stretch.

The meet also resolved to demand full development of the existing National Highway-37 and make it motorable in any condition besides setting up a separate economic development council for every ethnic community settling in the state.

Subsequently the gathering unanimously agreed to launch a massive public movement in case the government failed to swiftly response to the charter of demands adopted during today’s sitting.

Meanwhile, speaking at the meet Sunil Karam, vice president, NIPCO, clarified that the reports of the close door meeting recently held between the SHDDC and other civil bodies, at Kangpokpi, was misinterpreted by the president of the SHDDC and differ from the exact agreement from the meeting, as appeared in various local dailies.

The report has impinged on the image of the civil organizations present in the meeting, he claimed.

He further clarified that the valley based civil bodies during the meet came to an agreement to jointly appeal the government with regards to the issue of Sadar Hills.

The statement given by the SHDDC president before the media conveying that the valley based civil bodies fully support the demand of the committee was not true, said the NIPCO vice president.

Source: Imphal Free Press

MDF (T) appeals to call off eco-blockade [The Sangai Express]

IMPHAL, Oct 20: Expressing the prolonged imposi- tion of economic blockade on the highways and counter-blockade are against the very principle of peaceful co-existence in a multi-ethnic society like Manipur, the armed Military Defence Force (T) has made a fervent appeal to all concerned to call off the ongoing economic blockade.

An MDF (T) statement issued by its assistant publicity secretary Loingamba Mangang reminded that it is not the political class or affluent members of the society that suffer due to shortage of essential commodities but the hardest hit are the common people.

Contending that Government of India is relentlessly pursuing divide and rule policy by exploiting the multi-ethnic composition of  Manipur, the MDF statement also observed that it is against the basic principle of peaceful co-existence whenever a particular community settled along the lifelines resort to choking supply of essential commodities. Rather than aggravating problem besetting the people by disrupting movement of goods along the NHs it would be more prudent if there is joint effort to solve all outstanding problems, said the statement while reminding that even an iota of fissure in the relation-ships between one commu- nity and the other would be a potent weapon for exploitation by the Centre.

Source: The Sangai Express