Haraothel violence: NSU or Sahirok river?

There is either a huge communication gap or complete distrust between the villagers of Senjam Chirang-Senjam Khunou and Haraothel. The violent confrontation that broke out between the villagers on December 16 was not a positive development from any perspective. In fact, it is a matter of grave concern. According to reports, the confrontation broke out when some people of Senjam Chirang-Senjam Khunou dismantled pig pens built on the bank of Sahirok river. Their argument is, Sahirok river should not be polluted or blocked for more than 40,000 people in the downstream depend on it for their daily water requirement. But the other party has been contending that the violence was related to construction of National Sports University. There is a complete disconnect between these two arguments. Both the parties need to come out with their genuine concerns and grievances rather than covering them with fabricated arguments. The neighbouring villages need to reconcile and make peace even if they are contesting over any specific area. National Sports University or NSU in short is a very ambitious project and is a prized trophy collectively won by the consistent, excellent performance of State players at National and international championships over the years. The aims and objectives of NSU Bill 2017 say that NSU would be the first full-fledged university in India of international standards. The focus of the university would be on multi-disciplinary studies and it would have functionally related schools with stress on applicability based on the latest researches on sports sciences, sports medicine and sports technology. NSU is also empowered to establish outlying campuses throughout the country and outside India. As per reports, NSU and its outlying campuses will evolve as centres of excellence of various sports disciplines. Such is the prospect and potential of NSU. It would be sheer immaturity if we keep the ambitious project at bay because of land disputes or resultant litigations.
As commented earlier, the site for NSU is not free of controversy. These controversies are rooted in contestations over certain portion of the NSU site between Koutruk, Senjam Chirang and Senjam Khunou on one side and L Tangnuam (Haraothel) on the other. Let these villages negotiate, reconcile and bring an understanding among them, if possible, and if not, let them fight in Court. There is no need to paint the issue with communal colour. No doubt, big and responsible civil society organisations/student bodies can intervene but they should not take sides. Lending their weight to either of the contesting parties would only make the matter worse. They may intervene, if they must, toward finding a negotiated settlement. The project of NSU and its site should not be used as another premise for ethno-centric politics. Haraothel has never been a bone of contention between the hill people and plain people. Now, why should one project it as one? The Government too should shed its attitude of sitting back and watching any problem until it becomes a full blown crisis. If the violence of December 16 is related to construction of NSU at the particular site, the two parties must sit across a table and sort out things amicably with, of course, the Government and responsible CSOs as intermediaries. The two parties may adopt the same approach even if it is the other case i.e protection of Sahirok river.


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