Burning of houses: NMPO gives their side of story

By Our Staff Reporter
IMPHAL, Sep 22: The Northern Maram People’s Organization (NMPO) has came out with a different version of the incident con-cerning the burning of several houses at Makhan Khuman (Mao Makhan) in the early morning of September 17, claiming that the act was a spontaneous reaction of the Maram public and it was triggered by alleged en-croachment upon their land by Makhan people as well as their intolerable deeds.
The association also clarified that no houses at Makhan Khuman were locked and burnt down with people still inside them.
Addressing a press meet held at Maram Centre Guest House located at Maram, Senapati district today, NMPO president Talu Do-minic alleged that there have been lots of provocative acts done by Makhan people and those acts ultimately sparked the September 17 incident.
He claimed that Maram people initially allowed Makhan people to settle in Maram land some 40/50 years back by collecting tenant taxes from them (Makhan people).
Asserting that Makhan people stopped paying tenant taxes to Maram since 1988 after an incident in which some Makhan people allegedly misinformed the  Indian army who were then posted at the area that Ma-ram people were collecting taxes from them (Makhan people) as sympathisers of NSCN-IM, he informed that other communities (mainly non Manipuris) who are residing at the said land of Maram are still paying tenant tax to Maram people.
With the passage of time, the Makhan people began encroaching more into Maram's  land, apart from provoking the Maram people a lot, he added.
The Makhan people had even dismantled a large number of houses in a village of Maram called Naojai Village at Maram’s ancestral land in 2013.
On June 23, 2014, around 100 people of Ma-khan, dressed in camou- flage and carrying weapons and guns again attacked Naojai village. Following the incident, the then DC of issued a prohibitory order at the spot  and the areas within a one kilometre radius including Maram Bazaar, Makhan Khuman and Makhan Centre.
Despite the land dispute, some individuals of Makhan were found engaging heavy machinery at the disputed site since August this year, he claimed adding that the Maram people continued to exercise restraint as that they had been living together for many years and did not wish to ignite any tension between the two communities.
He went on to claim that the Makhan people even dismantled a portion of a fence at a horticulture land which Maram people had donated to the State’s Horticulture Department, and constructed their (Makhan people) playground and a community hall at the said area.
Then most recently, Electricity Department erected several posts for stringing HT lines just below the ancestral Maram Khullen village. However, Makhan Khuman argued that the land belonged to them and even complained to the concerned DC. This incident was the spark which ignited the recent violence, Talu Dominic claimed explaining that all these alleged provocations despite utmost restraint made Maram people lost control and patience resulting in the September 17 incident.
On the other hand, the NMPO president clarified that no houses were burnt after they were locked from outside or while people were present inside the said houses during the incident and conveyed that the Maram people are not that inhumane or heartless.
However, the acts of the Makhan people pushed the Maram people to their limits and their acts were beyond tolerance, he said. He then demanded the State Government not to allow any encroachment by Makhan people and to evict the constructions at the horticulture land donated by Maram people at the earliest. Failing to do so will force the Maram people to launch stringent agitation, he cautioned.