Mount Koubru caught in a storm
From April 7 to April 14
Chief Minister N Biren Singh cannot be caught napping at this crucial moment. The BJP led Government at Imphal has to act and demonstrate it means business else the Manipur Government will come nowhere near the BJP led Government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and ably assisted by Union Home Minister Amit Shah at New Delhi. This is where it becomes necessary to remind the Government at Imphal that one of the main reasons why the BJP led Government at New Delhi under Prime Minister Narendra Modi enjoys the confidence of the people is its purpose of mind and the gumption to not take nonsense from any quarters. The crux of the matter at the moment is Mount Koubru. On April 7, the KNF-N struck a tough pose and made it clear that the Government should abstain from ‘forceful occupation of tribal lands’ and qualified this with its stand that the Government should not declare the sacred site of Lai Pukhri and Koubru Hill range as protected sites. This was the stand of the KNF-N and it is acknowledged that their stand was addressed to the State Government, but one wonders why it capped off its stand with the words “Government should stop illegal seizure of tribal land which can cause communal tension.” The operative words here seem to be the ones given in italics and this is where it needs to be questioned why a stand against the policies and programmes of the Government can lead to communal tension. Or is it a case of the Biren Singh Government being identified with one particular community ? This is what the Government at Imphal should take note of. Matters did not start and end with what the KNF-N had to say on April 7 for on April 11, the Committee on Protection and Preservation of Mount Koubru came out with the grandiose announcement that all entry points to Mount Koubru would henceforth be sealed. This was purportedly against the move of the Government’s proceedings to declare Mount Koubru and the Lai Pukhri as protected sites !
As things have turned out, what the KNF-N and the Committee on Protection and Preservation of Mt Koubru had to say were just the trailers for more was to follow and this came in the tense stand off between the police and people of Kangpokpi district, including womenfolk, when the former tried to scale the mountain range to survey the area on April 13. The icing on the cake was the report that greeted the people on April 14, when news came in that one of the culverts/bridges that lead to Mount Koubru peak was found dismantled. Initial reports received at The Sangai Express say that the culvert/bridge was literally bull dozed. Stand off and this is where the political acumen of the Chief Minister and his men will be tested. At the crux of it all are the contrasting claims that the said mountain range is the ancestral land of opposing sides. To many, particularly to the Meiteis, the understanding of mankind would not be complete without a reference to Mount Koubru for it is their belief that human life originated from this mountain peak and it is for this very reason why hundreds of people go to the said mountain peak every year at this point of time to pay their obeisance. This is where the wisdom to close all the entry points to Mount Koubru may be questioned. The timing is suspect and while nothing has been said that the closure is to stop the pilgrims from paying obeisance, it is the timing which many have started questioning and rightfully so.