Noting stand of Forest Minister Eviction drives
Forest Minister Th Biswajit has a solid point. ‘Eviction drives don’t target any specific community’ is the line that he has maintained and why should the eviction of a recently established hamlet inside a protected forest be given a communal tinge ? On the other hand, the Government should now get down to the business of finding out the antecedents of the people who set up the village and study from where they came. Did they come from any of the other villages or settlements or did they just appear out of nowhere ? Who aided or assisted them in setting up the village, christened K Songtal in this case ? More importantly, after their eviction, where have they gone to ? Already these are questions which every concerned indigenous folks of the land must be raising and it is only right that the Government does not rest easy with just evicting them from the protected forest. Encroachers, they all are and it is only right that the Government study from where they came and accordingly act. As the Forest Minister himself took pains to explain, this was not the first time that encroachers had to be evicted and recalled the eviction drives at Heingang Reserved Forest, Langol Reserved Forest, Nongmaiching Reserved Forest and qualified this line with asserting that all the eviction drives were conducted under the Indian Forest Act of 1927. Or was the hue and cry raised at Kangpokpi, Churachandpur and some hill districts under the ground that the Forest Act cannot be applied in a tribal area ? That such a hue and cry should be raised when the world is talking about the need to go green and counter global warming is baffling. That the eviction drive should come close on the heels of the crackdown launched on poppy cultivation at many hill slopes should say something profound. Not everything should be viewed and understood along communal lines and the State Government has a duty to protect the reserved and protected forests in the State. It also stands that the crackdown launched against poppy plantations should be seen in the context of the War on Drugs and the numerous cases of drug manufacturing units being unearthed and destroyed in some parts of the State. Why should anyone object to moves to keep the forest cover protected ?
The suggestion to study the background of the people who set up the said village in a protected forest should also be understood in the context of the growing demand for a National Register of Citizens with 1951 as the base year. It is also along this same line that The Sangai Express had suggested the opening of refugee centres in the face of the turmoil in neighbouring Myanmar for setting up such camps can help the Government go a long way in keeping a close tab on the movement of the refugees. Such a move can go some way in ensuring that the refugees do not merge with the local population. The calculation is simple enough. Manipur is already reeling under large scale incursion from across the border and this is something which came out in all its ugly manifestation when the local people rose as one to oppose the naming of a locality after a particular community somewhere at Mantripukhri some time back. A tough stand, this is what the situation demands and with more than 30 MLAs in the House of 60, the BJP led Government is well placed to take far reaching decisions that could affect the future of the land and the people. Manipur has also already seen how the name of the historically important Mount Thangjing was surreptitiously changed to Mount Thangting some time back. The stand off over Mount Koubru is another example that comes to mind. Drug money going hand in hand with illegal migrants is a distinct possibility that cannot be ruled out and the daily seizure of drugs along the Imphal-Moreh route is an example that comes to mind and this should say something profound.