By. Naorem Sumanta Singh
Sadar Hills’ (presently a part of Senapati district) problem for demanding a full-fledge District is not something a new, it has been a big issue in Manipur since last Forty years. The demand is base on the Manipur (Hill Area) District Council Act of 1971 for establishment of Autonomous District Council in the Hill Area of the Union Territory of Manipur. It was the time before Manipur become Statehood, when Manipur become a statehood its power vested in the state government.
According to the Act, all the hill areas were to be divided into six autonomous districts, with the ultimate goal of full-fledged district. This six autonomous districts recommends under Nayal commission were: Churachandpur, Senapati, Ukhrul, Tamenglong, Kangpokpi (Sadar Hills) and Chandel. Of the six autonomous districts, Sadar Hills only one which is fail to be accorded a full-fledged district status, not like other five district it still remain as autonomous district council, and it supervises under Senapati district administration in all matters concerning executive, legislative, judicial and financial matters. In addition, all the Sadar Hills people wanted the benefits and privileges of a full-fledged district and self supervise under a separate [Sadar Hills] Deputy commissioner , a district magistrate, and a superintendent of police headquarters which will come under the town” Kangpokpi”.
As a continuation from its long time demand it start a fresh movement with a representative of various Organizations which represent nearly 1-1.3 lacks population such as Kuki Civil Bodies, Members of District Council (MDC) and Members of Sadar Hills District-hood Demand Committee (SHDDC) and with various civil bodies like Kuki Innpi, Kuki Student Organizations, all comes up with Memorandum demanding full-fledge District with an indefinite Economic Blocked. The joint committee submitted their Memorandum not only to the Manipur Chief Minister but also to the Central Government for drawing their intervention and to give appropriate direction to the state government and immediate implementation of 1971 MDC Act.
Regarding to join committee Memorandum, the representatives of this organizations claim that, they are facing a long time suffering from severe economic deprivation, anomalies, depression, wretched, miserable, and poorest which is due to ineffective administrative functions since last 40 years. It also blame that, this delay in district formation has denied the peoples and their opportunities for all round development and it is also against the equal democracy treatment. But the Naga leaders are hell bent on thinking that Sadar Hill district is for the Kuki’s which will ultimately lead to the creation of Kuki homeland base on ethnic and also a illegal process.
As we all acknowledge this forty years demand is mainly base on the development, and administrative convincement for the people living in the area. It’s neither a demand for sovereignty, not a demand for separation state but it is a demand for the implementation of the Sadar Hills Autonomous District Council into a full-fledged district. It is also a demand for exercise of democratic rights by the people of Sadar Hills. This long process and its inefficient Governments response turn extremely aggrieved the Kuki peoples of the Sadar hills and also fells that its delay/denied in government decision is ignoring the justice of the people and make fooling and dissipating the wish of Sadar hills people.
Here’s a main thing we need to remain is that the development of Manipur is also not only depends to the development of valley or some area(60% of population) but also in the development of its hilly areas which represent almost 90 percent of Manipur territory. So the progress of converting Sadar hills to a full-fledge district can be one of the process towards development. But, on the other side means (blocked, violence) of its demand is wrongly interpreting the democratic idea of development –which it doesn’t mean that, we can do what we want. It should not disturb or make trouble the others. Peace, harmony and non violence should be the only in democracy. It should be base on Legal and peaceful democratic way and the Government has the right and power to protect civilians and their properties hence, the Government must enforce power against violence to bring normalcy in the state. We belong to a country, countries are divided into states and states further divided into sub units for administrative convenience which is the sole of development. This does not mean to divide according to ethnic line but need to decide on region, population, socioeconomic and administration feasibility.
Due to ongoing continuous economic blocked for last two month, it turns to paralyze the socio-economic life of Manipur. It dried up all commodities which needs for everyday life, after all pumps have run out of petroleum stocks, there is no stock of rice and sugar in the CAF&PD godown of every district. It also leads to uncontrollable pries rise in foods, fuel items, LPG and all commodities. Finally it fails to control the policy for price control, implemented by states government. On the another hand other then Sadar hill demand Jiri people start another blocked in national highway 53 to demarcate a separate Jiri district. Meanwhile, against long time Sadar hills blocked, many people start a counter blocked against the Sadar hill economic blocked, this let it turns Sadar hills problem to a very complex issue because people start blaming one another and also one community to communities. But, every blockader clarified that their enforced bandh is not targeted against any community but against the policy of the State Government. But, its action only let to suffer all manipuri common peoples both the peoples living in valley and the hills. And it is also likely to be continued until the governments make any reasonable decision to all the communities.
Since, the Nayal commission recommended for creation of Sadar hill district, many of the state governments headed by leaders such as Rishang Keishing, R. K. Ranbis. W. Nopamacha and O. Ibobi Singh have attempted to declare and make Sadar Hills as a Full-Fledge Revenue District. But, it still fails to do so, because of objection from other communities those settled in the area specially the Nagas (the Manipur Naga Council). Unfortunately, politics in Manipur is largely driven along ethnic lines (Meiteis, the Kukis, and the Nagas) so, it become a very sensitive issue and is difficult to settle the issue without the consult of this different groups. This is the main reason why government fails to take any further steps as also government do not wanted another Naga-Kuki conflict of 1993 or another 18 June uprising.
Moreover, in last 40 years government has done enough remapping the Sadar hills village’s by attaching and seizing village to another assembly constituency and it still missed its fair game or a positive policy towards solution to bring the issue to an end. Now this issue reaches to a very sensitive/complex stage, but, no matter what it is government along with the various representative these organization can bring a solution through a successful negotiation, it’s the time to move ahead to search for a solution to ties vexed issue to end the suffering of the entire Manipuri peoples.
The decision should be a fair decision which it will not hurt the sentiment of any communities of Manipur and also a sustainable in both socio-economic and administrative terms. If Sadar Hills district boundary were to be drawn along ethnic line, it can engender a chain of other demands in existing districts and also in many other region which it will be possible to crate confronting among the communities which will leads not only to simple ethnic conflict but sure to be extended to the conflict of Insurgency groups those representing/performing Umbrella protection to their very ethnic community. Meanwhile, the people of Manipur are ethnically sensitive so, it should be only base on development and administrative perspective, there should be “not any more ethnic base political game”. Even though the demand is organize among the Kuki communities and its different organizations, the join organizing committee claim it’s nothing to do with ethnic but it is totally base on socio-economic and Administrative convenience. But still the question remains that, how far it is true? And why only Kuki people support?
So, Manipur government needs to take this issue seriously and solve it as soon as possible. All Manipuri people are frustrated from such kinds of long time blocked, strikes and inability/irresponsibility of state government. Now, the Sadar hill issues become the issue of Manipur it is not only for Naga or Kuki but is also a issue for Meitei, Meitei Pangal or communities and government as we represent all the Manipuri. It becomes a big challenge to all the people of Manipur to cooperate, show the respect among one another and decide the best solution to bring this issue to an end. We need to learn the beauty of diversity, and respecting the rights of every citizen. It is our responsibility not only the government but also we all of Manipuri people to helping in bringing a solution to re-imposed peace and harmony. It is possible through the leaders of the all communities and government by bringing the issue on a negotiation desk and to decide the possible steps without hurting the sentiments of all —-so, “let’s stop blamed games”. If it fail and continue for some more days, surly, all the people of Manipur will evolve for another 18 June, or another Naga-Kuki conflict of 1993 or a new civil war. And if it is the government/peoples wish to let it happened then very soon we will see more violence, more destruction of public and private properties, injuries in extreme cases, and even death by killing among we all Manipuri.
[box color=”blue”] This article was sent to Kanglaonline by Naorem Sumanta Singh[/box]