Recalling Christopher Gimson’s visit to Longa Koireng village

    20-Jul-2019
Yangsorang Rongreisek
“My obitter Dictum in Appeal No.41 of 1934, which concerned different villages has no authority and in any case was not an order”.—Christopher Gimson, the Political Agent in Manipur (1933-47).
At the outset, the purpose of writing this story is honestly intended to let the youngsters in the present generation know how much Longa Koireng village was of vital strategic importance in the Territorial Era even though the State Govt of Manipur had abandoned or forgotten it virtually. The writing is never meant for hurting or antagonising any one of the neighbouring villages. One of the oldest foot-hill villages of Manipur, Longa Koireng, formerly known as Yonga Koireng lies on the Imphal-Silchar Road that overhangs the Imphal Valley. The village is bounded on the east by valley patta land, on the south by New Keithelmanbi, on the north by Thangjing Chiru and on the north-west by T.Laijang village. The area of Longa Koireng village is about 8 sq. kms. It is inhabited by a little over 600 souls belonging to Koireng Tribe.
During the construction of Imphal-Silchar Road, Longa Koireng village served as the transit camp for traders, commuters and passengers alike who were travelling from Imphal to Silchar and vice-versa till the late 60s. Other than this, there was no other road linking Imphal with Silchar. Trucks and jeeps often broke down in the steep village road that led to Silchar side. It was a foot-path like road which grew steeper as trucks and jeeps climbed higher. It was a steep slope rising suddenly. The village chief used to call the male members of the village out to help pull out ill-fated trucks which got stucked in the mud during rainy seasons. The village folks used to extend every possible help to those guests whenever they halted for a night in the village. Never were they xenophobic, rather were always hospitable and helpful in many different ways, even sharing their simple meals with commuters and passengers. Shri A.Sibo, Special Contractor from Mao Gate brought a large number of labourers from his own place and Ukhrul as well to the village for earth cutting of the national highway, now called N.H.-No.37, of which earth cutting started only in 1961.  Makeshift camps were set up in the village for accommodation of the labourers and engineers. One Section Officer namely Angangyaima from Imphal, who later became the Chief Engineer of Works Dept of Manipur, supervised construction of the high way. While reading in Class-V in 1966, this writer often overheard Pupu Luplakpa (Vice Chief of the village), his neighbour calling the engineer Angangyaima Saap. But all those works were for construction of the national highway running downhill towards Moidangpok in Imphal West one Km away above the village. Thus, the village was left out and no village road worth the name was improved for it.
Another Koireng village called Maha Koireng situated 5 kms to the south of Longa Koireng ceased to exist before the Kuki Rebellion (1917-19). Later, it tried to re-establish itself, but never really succeeded and had only one house of strong five brothers. A dispute arose between Longa Koireng and Maha Koireng over a Grass Mahal which actually belonged to the former so the latter sought the help of other neighbouring villages. There was an intense fight between the two villages when Maha Koireng was supported by its neighbouring villages. They fell out as if they didn’t belong to the same community. No third party could persuade the two villages to end the boundary dispute.
To be contd