MOREH, June 20: “The Burmese army personnel come to our village and keep loitering in the streets when it is dark, sometimes they come in vehicles. We are afraid to go out in our own village,” said L Haokip, a resident of Haolenphai village.
Haolenphai village is located around 3 kilometers north of Moreh, Indo-Myanmar border town and is inhabited by the Kuki community. Recently, the Myanmar army has erected a makeshift wooden fence to demarcate the line of control in the area which starts from border pillar number 74.
The mentioned village and its residents are spread out from the said pillar and further encompass border number 75 and 76. The area mentioned is almost about 12 square kilometers. At present, this area which originally is ancestral land of the Kuki village is claimed by Myanmar as their territory.
Haokip further added that in the past week, the Myanmar army has dismantled two houses which were under construction. They are posted near the border pillar and have set up camp nearby. His story was corroborated when a team of scribes went to inspect the dismantled houses, 3 armed Myanmar personnel came out and scrutinised the team. Fortunately, one of the persons travelling with the scribes spoke Burmese and managed to avoid any complications.
The villagers are panicked by the presence of the armed Myanmarese personnel intruding at the village premises. Adding to their problems, the Assam Rifles post officer along the ADC chairman has also instructed the villagers to stop new construction, Haokip said.
Reacting to this incursion, President of Information Centre for Hill Areas, Manipur, N Rajendro said that the border fencing has been vexed with constant problems since the very start as the land which originally was part of Manipur has been given away to Myanmar. “There was no issue of incursion at Haolenphai village, this is a recent issue and came post the border issue in July, 2013.” He added that the state government and the concerned authorities of the Centre need to address the incursion at Haolenphai and proper demarcation needs to be done, otherwise more agitations is in the offing. This would only add fuel to the fire of the present border issue imbroglio, he maintained.
The media team along with the activists and chief of Haolenphai village, Lalkholun Haokip also went to Lhangcham area with is located near border pillar 76. There is a vast extension of teak forest at the area. But, this area was also encroached by Myanmarese villagers and a huge clearing in the middle of the teak forest was used for shifting cultivation. When the field was inspected by the scribe team, a fire used for cooking was still lit and some clothings used by the farmers were also seen at the mentioned spot. On hearing the approach of the team, the farmers’ had run away from the spot.
According to Lhangcham, the state government has proposed to build an integrated check post at the site before. But, after the said area was claimed by Myanmar, the government authorities had shifted the venue of the check post to the village area of Haolenphai village. He decried the step-motherly treatment by the Union government authorities and ignoring the woes of the villagers. “We have been living in this land as my forefathers have before, we will not allow such discrimination, we will resist the Burmese intrusion in any possible manner and even at the cost of our lives,” he said.
Kuki Students Organisation (KSO) general secretary Seiboi Haokip also in a similar note called on the state government attention in this issue. He said that proper demarcation should be conducted and the matter should be settled at the earliest, otherwise KSO and other likeminded organisations are prepared to launch protests to halt the incursion. “This cannot be accepted in any manner, the villagers have the right to their ancestral land. It is our duty to ensure that their human rights is not violated.” he said.
It may be mentioned that border fencing on the eastern side of Moreh town at Govajang village has been halted due to a petition filed by the villagers. The fencing route had fallen in the middle of the village church. The said village has been inhabited since 1967 by the Kukis.