IMPHAL, Sept 3: There have been new districts demand boom in Manipur.
The latest has been the Tongjei Marin District Demand Committee (TMDDC) reviving its latent demand for creation of separate district by bifurcating the existing districts of Churachandpur, Tamenglong, Jiribam (in Imphal East) and Senapati.
This demand is being revived even as the ongoing agitation across Sadar Hills under the aegis of Sadar Hills Districthood Demand Committee (SHDDC), demanding a full fledged district is wedged in political battle. The agitation by SHDDC has stifled National Highways 53 and 39, passing through the contiguous area, for the 34th day today, thereby effectively shutting the state off from mainland India.
Convener of Tongjei Marin District Demand Committee (TMDDC) Abon Kamei today told the media at Manipur Press Club here that a memorandum to this effect had already been submitted to the then chief minister of Manipur as early as July 11, 1998 and the memorandum submitted on August 30, 2011 is only a reminder.
With this, there are currently five now-active-now-latent movements demanding the creation of full fledged districts in Manipur—Tongjei Marin, Phungyar, Sadar Hills, Jiribam, Tengnoupal.
An area of 952 sq. km encompassing Tamenglong district’s Lower Lukhambi to the north, Churanchandpur district’s Tuangtu and Tuiphai (Thanlon-Nungsei Kolhen Chothe Munpi of Henglep subdivision) to the south, Senapati district’s Sadar Hills’ New Keithelmanbi and Chini-Inkhol to the east and Imphal East’s Jiribam’s Gularthol and Tousem subdivision’s Kaiphundai to the west, comprising of 150 villages and one of the most underdeveloped area of the state have been proposed to be created into a full fledged district, noted Abon Kamei.
He added that the approximate population of the proposed district is one lac, composed of Aimol, Gangte, Chiru, Baite, Meitei, Bihari, Bengali Neisel, Haokip, Kipgen, Paite, Zou, Sitlhou, Singsit, Samte, Simte, Vaiphei, Singson, Kharam, Khasi, Hmar, Kom, Nepali, Zeliangrong Zemei, Liangmai, Tongmei, Puimei, all indigenous to the area in question.
Highlighting the historical importance of the area which has fallen out of favor today, Kamei observed that all essential commodities from Silchar was traditionally brought in through a narrow conduit along the Tongjei Marin stretch by the villagers on a foot journey that required several days hiking.
The Zeliangrong people carried the palanquin of King Charairongba in 1704 AD when he went on his pilgrimage to Brindavan in Uttar Pradesh through Tongjei Marin and onto Silchar, he said.
He added that the people of the area had also extended support by enlisting as royal soldier during the time of King Bhagyachandra and King Gambhir Singh whose sacrifices and martyrdom are still fondly remembered to this day.
Kamei rued that despite such a historical importance, the area has since been fallen out of favor with the government and needed restoration of the lost pride.
According to him the area has been completely ignored by the government with developmental radar bypassing it. Healthcare delivery services are pathetic with few nonfunctioning PHC buildings and no doctors and nurses to attend to the healthcare needs of the people. Many women have died while giving birth, not to mention death due to snake bite.
There are no motorable roads and the only means of reaching the area is by tracking along the narrow path through the woods for 3-4 days. There is virtual no education system in the area, he said.
Kamei said that the development deficit of the area could only be addressed with the creation of a full fledged district. He also said that there is a simultaneous demand for the inclusion of concept in the re-organization process undertaken by the government appointed subcommittee.