The agitations that have turned violent at Kakching Lamkhai of Thoubal District on June 12 demands immediate intervention from the state government. Just a few days back residents of Kakching area had blocked the Kakching Lamkhai road to air their grievances. Their complaint was that a group of people claiming themselves to be the members of Laiching Village authority have allegedly destroyed tree plantation at the Kakching Mamangching on May 21. Accordingly the residents of Kakching have demanded an apology from those involved in destroying the plantation at Mamangching. The residents had voiced their anger by calling a road blockade at Kakching Lamkhai early this month as the plantation destroyers remained unrelenting. The 24 hour strike called on June 12 is not an isolated incident. The strikers were also angry because billboards with ‘Chandel’ inscribed began appearing between Kakching Lamkhai and Pallel along the Asian Highway No. 1, though the area is apparently within the jurisdiction of Thoubal district. The recent violent action of destroying the billboards indicates an accumulated feeling of resentment, as it seems. It is learned that the people of Kakching are not particularly pleased with the land demarcation between Kakching and its surrounding areas. Inhabited mostly by Maring community from an early period of time, the traditional inter village demarcation is believed to be the catchment area at Mamangching. The changes brought about by new concepts of town planning in this area have made the highway the demarcating point, instead of the catchment area. And also, uneven urbanisation ensued with the setting up of the greater Kakching area. Landholding values thus have increased randomly in and around the area. The amorphousness in the boundary added confusion and discontentment between the neighbouring villagers, which if not addressed urgently could upset ties among the communities. By saying this, we are not pressing the panic button in any away.
Needless to say, the recent unrest also indicates the poverty of foresightedness on the part of the town planners. A prerequisite practice like public consultation, which is a gem of our democratic ethos, is an alien concept to the town planners. At times their bureaucratic arrogance insulates them from public opinion. The state intervention is painfully late in most of the cases. Reportedly, the residents of Kakching have already appealed to the authorities for correcting the name of the place on the billboards. The fire-fighting approach of the state authorities needs to be changed. The district police along with the municipal authorities tried to bring an understanding with the protestors. But it turned out to be counterproductive, giving ample room for the authorities to learn lesson, that it was not the way as it should be. Timely intervention is the answer. Destruction of property, either private or public by the protestors is also condemnable. For that matter, violent actions should be avoided to register any protest. At the same time, one should also question the role of our civil voluntary organisations for their invisibility in such sensitive cases. This is not to suggest that the organisation should get involved in all sorts of petty disputes in a Leikai. Rather, we expect them to reach out to the people and not vice-versa. The civil voluntary organisation should not distance themselves from the people. To be with the people and to know the pulse of the people are unique advantages of the organisations. More importantly, they should not shy to learn from the people as well.