IMPHAL, September 20: The people of Andro want a peaceful settlement to the land dispute with Sandang Semba Maring village. We don’t want any untoward incident arising out of the encroachment at the holy site of Andro, Andro village khulakpa Chingakham Gandhar Meitei said today.
Reacting to the cutting down of trees at Upokpi Umang Lai by Uchon villagers on August 8 and allegations that Andro villagers have encroach upon land of the Sandang Semba Maring village, local organisations led by the khullakpa called a press conference today.
Speaking at the Andro Sanapokpa Chakpa Andro Pana Ningthou Laibung, Gandhar said on August 8, Uchon villagers had felled down several trees at the holy place of Upokpi Umang Lai near Uchon.
On being asked why they were cutting the trees and under whose authority, the Uchon villagers said they had already talked with the Sandang Semba Maring Village who sanctioned the felling of the trees, he continued.
After advising the Uchon villagers that the Maring village is not the concern authority, they were fined a sum of Rs 15,000 for felling the trees according to customary law, he said.
The villagers were also directed to call the Maring village authorities, but they failed to turn up, Gandhar continued.
The people of Andro had also invited the Maring authorities for talks on two counts he said adding that the other side has failed to turn up on both occasions.
The Maring village failed to respond to their call for negotiation, he said.
He said after all efforts to solve the issue through negotiation with the Maring village authorities failed, he himself took a team of around 30 persons of the Andro village and demarcated the land belonging to Andro at the holy place and erected flags along the boundary line.
However, the same day, a team of the Imphal East police came at the spot following a complaint from the Maring authorities, he said.
The Andro villagers had not committed any illegal act during the demarcation at the spot, he claimed while assuring that they had been asking to settle the issue through negotiation.
Former Khulakpa Salam Jugeshore said an allegation made by Northern Elders Forum published in local newspapers stating that the Andro villagers had flagged off around 350 acres of land at the holy site is totally baseless and condemnable.
The claim that the Sandang Semba maring village had been settling in the area since time immemorial is also false, as the village had been inhabited only about 80 years ago, when Andro forefathers had provided a small piece of land to the Maring villagers between Sandang Semba Kabui villager and Andro, he claimed.
At the same time the flagged off area at the holy site is only about 30 acres and not 350 acres as claimed in the report, he continued.
The Maring villagers are now threatening the Andro villagers, he said before appealing to all not to elaborate on misleading news.
People of Andro only want to preserve the historic places like the Salot Ching and cannot allow cutting down of trees inside the local holy sites, he added.
We want co-habitation with people of all communities, but cannot allow the provocations, he said before alleging the Maring villagers of flaring up communalism in the issue.
He further appealed to the Maring authorities to settle the issue through negotiations.
The press conference was also attended by Eastern Schedule Caste Student’s Union, All Andro Women Development meira paibis and All Andro Youth Clubs.