Sadar Hills: Open letter to the Chief Minister of Manipur

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Dear Chief Minister,

This refers to the ongoing mass movement for creating a new district in the northern part of our beloved State. The past week has seen several forms of protests with strings of violence involved with the killing of three protesting people, all women including a student which severely disrupts the normal functioning of life. It is unfortunate that such inconvenience has to be caused only because people assert for their rights, seek justice and strive for the betterment of their over-all being. I don’t have to explain you the reason why such unfortunate incidents had to happen. Nor do I to reproduce to you the facts and figures pertaining to the demand for upgradation of Sadar Hills as a full-fledged revenue district. In the same vein, expect me not to summarize the history of Sadar Hills, the various developments thus far, the casualties suffered, or the responses of the successive governments, just for the sake of creating a district which the State Government has been doing at ease. For an issue that has been pending in the State Assembly for four decades and which continuously haunts every successive governments ever since, none other than someone in your position, I believe, will know better.

You know that upgradation of Sadar Hills is just about adding another district in the State. It is about more revenues/funds, better governance and better and more facilities to the people. It hardly matters which community dominates the region or who benefits most. If granting a district in which one community dominates means seceding that part from the State, then the existing districts–Senapati, Ukhrul, Tamenglong, Ccpur, etc.–should have been the first to go away. But, as we all know, they are not, and to some foreseeable extent they wouldn’t. Geo-politically, Sadar Hills is the only landlocked district in hills which does not in anyway threaten the territorial unity of Manipur as long as the peripheral districts remain intact. You may also know that Sadar Hills at present is under Senapati district in which, as far as the people know, the funds meant for the entire district is poured in and around the district headquarters. You may kindly enquire the people in the far-flung areas within the district to ascertain my point. Senapati district, as you know, is inhabited by different communities–Kukis, Kacha-Nagas aka Manipur Nagas & Nepalis–where past incidents of communal violence, injustices, biased distribution of resources, communalism, etc. plagues the entire system. In such a situation, what sort of all-round development(s) can we expect? A clear cut demarcation by way of allocating different source–in this case, separate districts–is the best option.

You might also agree that upgradation of Sadar Hills as a district is a sheer necessity for efficient and responsible administration. To give you an example, New Keithelmanbi, parts of Nambol, west of Langol etc. are under Kangpokpi police station – and like scores of other are not directly connected with district headquarters. One classic example of bits and pieces administration is that of Bongbal Kholen, nestling between Thoubal and Ukhrul districts on the eastern bank of Thoubal irrigation dam. Officially under Saikul police station, it has no direct link with the sub-division or district HQ. Worse still, the Senapati district administration does not even know where Bongbal Kholen is situated. There is no way Senapati could efficiently administer these ‘out-of-reach’ areas. If anything serious happens in these areas, if would be either Imphal West or Thoubal or Bishnupur district or even Ukhrul police to reach the scene. The simple answer to such scenario is to set up a full-fledged district in order to connect all parts of Sadar Hills under one administration.

You might also have access to the demography and other statistics of the supposed district. The Kukis of Sadar Hills lag behind in all fronts. Be it literacy, govt. jobs, health care, physical and social infrastructure, etc. they are far behind their cognate groups in Ccpur and other tribes in Ukhrul, Tamenglong, etc. not to mention the valley districts which are incomparable. ‘Development’ is a major reason behind the need for upgradation of the region–which you and your Secular ‘Progressive’ Front (SPF) government espouse to stand for. It is the bedrock of your manifesto and on which you party stands. Is it a ‘progress’ when a section of your citizens are dragged along, cry for justice, human rights, equal treatment, while others march on their feet in joyful exultation? Are not you supposed to respond to these? If you are not a part of the solution, then you are a part of the problem.

Sadar Hills district has to be created by any means. Just because there are some Kacha-Naga villages within the district should not be a hindrance. You may also know how many Kuki villages are there in Ukhrul and Tamenglong districts. Similarly, Ccpur district which is thought to be a cent per cent Kuki district also has few Kacha-Naga villages which equally benefit the privileges. Kuki and Kacha-Naga are the two hill-tribes in Manipur which have been living side by side since time immemorial. Hence, a district purely inhabited by one tribe is not practical.

Sadar Hills is a living issue which has been going on for decades. Arms and ammunitions, false promises and threat will not kill. It will go on until the need is fulfilled. Successive governments have been using the vexed issue as a vote bank and as political ploy. It would be most unfortunate if you also happen to be like your predecessors. The people are fed up with the “hayeng-hayeng” tradition. The people who elected you and whom you promise to serve want concrete time-frame, sooner for the better. Your citizens want substance not false promises. Betray not the people who made you the only CM to complete a full-term and who are due to make you for yet another full-term in few months; the people who make you the first CM in Manipur to hold all the top port-folios and who make you, perhaps, the first non-tribal Tribal Devt. Minister!

With all these points at hand, the people see no reason why you and your colleagues should not take the needful step. You are not a dictator in an authoritarian State but a revered Chief Minister in a vibrant and democratic State. You are there to cater to the needs of the people, think for their betterment, protect their rights and dignity and bound to fulfill their aspirations. How many more bloods do we have to shed and how many lives do we have to sacrifice just because we have to remind the govt. of its duty? Creating Sadar Hills is in the collective interests of the people whom you promise to earnestly serve. The best time to plant a tree is twenty years ago; the second best is now. Similarly, the best time to create Sadar Hills district is forty years ago; the second best is now!

CT Haokip, Delhi
chonhaokip(at)gmail.com

Posted: 2011-08-07

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