From Thangjing to Thangting Politics of name
From Thangjing to Thangting, from ‘refugees to indigenous’, from Turen Wangma Leikai to Chikim village, Khunou Leikai to T Yangnom, Bazar Leikai to D Monaphai, Heinomakhong Laikei to again Chikim, all In Moreh and clearly the illegal immigrants have come a long way. From driving out the Nagas from their villages adjoining Moreh during the Naga-Kuki clash from 1992 to 1997 and giving it their own name to now claiming that the border town is theirs by birth and clearly the agenda at work cannot be missed. It was just some time back a hue and cry was raised when attempts were made to christen a place as ‘Vaiphei colony’ to the east of Mantripukhri, a space acquired after some Meitei families sold off their paddy lands to meet some financial exigency. Spread out, occupy any vacant plots of land, give it your name and in due course of time claim it as an ancestral land. Or better still take note of the word Lamka given as the address of the Air Ticketing Office of Air India located at Imphal International Airport and things cannot get more dangerously farcical than this. This agenda should be nipped in the bud. There is a reason why the Tangkhul Naga Long had made it more than clear that no relief centres can be set up within their jurisdiction. Stretch this a little bit and it becomes clear that they do not want anyone to stay there as ‘refugees’ for they have had the bitter experience of such elements later claiming the land they were allowed to occupy, as their ancestral property. This is far sightedness at work for no one would want to see a repeat of what happened three decades back. The State Government should take due note of the stand spelt out by the Tangkhul Naga Long and here is a lesson for everyone in Manipur, people who are indigenous to the place. What is in a name one may ask but given the ugly reality in Manipur, it could mean a lot. Giving some sort of legitimacy, and it is from this ‘sort of legitimacy’ that claims can be raised that it is one’s ancestral land. Manipur, more particularly Imphal, has seen and experienced this and the time is more than right to assert that the time for christening any locality or a place according to one’s whim with an eye on the future can no longer be done so. This is what is happening at Moreh right now and one hopes the matter has reached the ears and eyes of the Government. The conspiracy in the change of name of a locality is serious and can have far reaching repercussions in the long run and this is precisely the reason why the Government should look into the issue raised here with the urgency it requires.
Spread out. Settle at a new place and claim it as an ancestral land and this is another reason why the Government had to take a tough stand against encroachment inside Reserved and Protected Forests. The tasks at hand should be clear. Don’t leave anything unsettled. Manipur has suffered for far too long for not taking things to its logical conclusion. Union Home Minister Amit Shah has already acknowledged the influx from across the border after the coup there, but this is not enough. It is incumbent on the State Government to look beyond the political unrest at Myanmar to get a more comprehensive understanding of the influx from across the border. A look at the emergence of new villages in the hills, particularly near the international border should be in line. This is where it becomes important to question what has happened to the illegal immigrants who wrere detected at Churachandpur and other places, long before the present violence exploded in the evening of May 3. Are their movements still being monitored or has the Government lost track of where they are now ? Or more importantly have they merged with the local population ? The change in the name of localities should be seen in the backdrop of these questions.