IMPHAL, September 27: “We should promote the idea of unity and togetherness,” former Chief Minister Rishang Keishing said today.
Rishang, who holds the record of the oldest and longest serving parliamentarian of India said there are around 300 sub-tribes under the nomenclature ‘Tangkhul tribe’ in Ukhrul district and they had different dialects with no common dialect or language to communicate among each other in the olden days.
He said Manipur is formed by the hills and valley and around 37 to 38 tribes reside in the hills.
“When the American missionary Pettigrew came to Manipur in 1904 he was only welcomed by the Ukhrul people. Mizoram, the valley people and others had rejected him on different grounds.”
He was speaking at the distribution ceremony of the Governor’s Award and the Rajkumari Santombi Devi Award 2015.
The ceremony was held at Asha Jina Complex at North AOC.
“Pettigrew translated the Bible in the local dialect of Ukhrul people and wrote it using Roman letter.”
This was the beginning of education for the Tangkhul tribe and from which the different 300 sub-tribes started to communicate with one another and later on reached the valley areas and the mainstream by coming out from their habitat hills, he observed.
The former Chief Minister who is a Tangkhul himself said “When I was an MP, Manipur government allotted a land especially for hill peoples of the State to setup Adim Jati in 1952. It was inaugurated by the first president of India Rajendra Prasad.”
“From my MP fund I sanctioned Rs 1 crore and constructed a hall at the Adim Jati. The construction work is completed only the furniture work is left.”
“In 2004, I deposited another Rs 1 crore to build a 50 seated working women’s hostel for the working women of the hills who are working in Imphal and a hostel for the students of the hills, as most of the higher educational institutes are in Imphal.”
He said he had met Prime Minister Narendra Modi for the construction of these buildings and pressurized the government.
“Now around 180 girls from 17 different tribes are staying in this hostel.”
“By living together here we will start loving and understand each other. This kind of initiatives needs to be increased,” Rishang Keishing said.
Speaking on the present situation he said “I told the government that to tell them (hill people who are agitating) that we (govt) do not intend to harm the interest of yours (hills or Tribals), if there is anything that you are not satisfied or happy about it bring it out so we (govt and the agitators) can find a solution.”
“Trying to breaking the territorial integrity of the state by taking advantage of the present turmoil will not succeed,” Rishang said.
He said many outsiders have entered inside Manipur.
Referring to the tribals, he said “I told them not to allow that but they wouldn’t listen.”
“There are tribes many tribes in Manipur like Lamkang tribe which has only five villages (Khuls) with only four churches in Manipur,” he said adding that there are more such tribes including the Monsang, Moinao, Anal, Maring etc.
“I told them not to bring outsiders to strengthen the number of the particular tribal population.”
Rishang Keishing further appealed to all to find a constructive means to discuss the issues so that the State can be governed peacefully.
The awards distribution ceremony was also attended by MP Dr Th Meinya, and IAS retd Pangambam Bhorot Singh as president and guest of honour respectively.