Imphal: The People’s Alliance for Peace & Progress Manipur (PAPPM) has demanded the State Government to constitute a judicial enquiry into the conspiracy behind the violence and arson in Churachandpur HQ and Tuibong on 27th and 28th April 2023 to identify culprits and punish them as per law.
PAPPM President M Boby Meitei in a statement said that the recent violent agitation by certain tribal groups in Churachandpur District HQ recently exposes the disease Manipur, especially the Churachandpur district, is suffering from. The agitators has vandalised and destroyed public as well private property in the name of protesting for not allowing to start new settlements in protected forest areas.
It said K.Sonjang village which was evicted in February 2023 started settlement inside the Churachandpur-Khoupum Protected Forest boundary only recently. Anyone with a little knowledge of Google Earth can easily verify the year of the new settlement. The violent agitators burned the banner carrying the photos of the Chief Minister of Manipur and Prime Minster of India besides chanting abuses against the Chief Minister N. Biren Singh. Many police personal sustained injuries trying to control the violent agitators resorting to arson of the forest range office in the Tuibong area. Amongst the injured, one police personal sustained serious eye injury with the possibility of losing his eyesight.
It is worth pondering how an eviction of a 15 nos of temporary/Kutcha houses which encroached upon the protected forest area only recently triggered such a violent agitation. It is also a big question if such a violent agitation could have been possible without the support of vested interest groups. It will not be wrong to say that the violent agitation was orchestrated by the powerful group who had been indulging in poppy plantation, drug smuggling and deforestation for many years against the interest of the people of Manipur and India as a whole. It is the strong stand taken by the present government under Chief Minister N. Biren Singh against poppy plantation, drug smuggling and deforestation and encroachment inside the reserve and protected forests that has angered the powerful group. Nobody can deny the fact that there has been massive poppy plantations inside the Churachandpur-Khoupum Protected Forest area and the encroachment inside the forest area has been continuing for the past many years for the purpose of poppy cultivation. So it can be safely concluded that violent agitation and arson in the Churachandpur HQ and Tuibong area is with the sole purpose of discouraging the government machinery from taking
up action against the poppy plantation and the resulting deforestation, it maintained.
The release further said the villagers who were settled inside the Churachandpur-Khoupum Protected Forest when the area was declared as protected can settle inside the forest with a host of rights and there is no question of eviction of the genuine forest settlers. Thus, eviction of K.Sonjang village was just an excuse for the violent agitation and arson and the real issue runs very deep affecting the whole society of Manipur and India as a whole.
The role played by the MLA of Saikot Assembly Constituency, Paolienlal Haokip is very dubious. It looked like he was responsible for the calming down the agitators indulging in violence and arson. However, we are strongly convinced that he is the person responsible for spreading dissatisfaction amongst the public against the eviction and thus giving opportunity to the vested interest groups to protest in the name of the eviction. In his various posts in social media, he is spreading dissatisfaction amongst the public, especially the youth of Churachandpur writing that the “reserve and protected forests are declared surreptitiously” questioning on the legality of the declaration of the reserve and protected forests while his duty should have been to educate the public about the need of the reserve and protected forests and importance of following the law, it contended.
How can the declaration of the Churachandpur and Khoupum Protected Forest be surreptitious when the claims and objections have been filed as far as 1971, it questioned.
It stated that Churachandpur Khoupum Protected Forest was notified under Section 29 in the Indian Forest Act, 1927 and there is no legal loophole in the notification as alleged by the MLA in various posts in social media. The real loophole is the passing of fraudulent orders by the FSO for excluding lands from the protected forests in gross violation of Section 29 of the Indian Forest Act, when there is no provision of excluding lands from protects forests as the villagers settled inside the protected area continue to enjoy host of rights including the continuation of settlement. Thus the issue of eviction was just an excuse to claim legitimacy of taking up violent agitations and indulging in arson. Eviction is a common occurrence in various parts of the state as it has become a habit for the people of Manipur to encroach upon the public land by private individuals since no strict actions were taken up for such encraochments by the past governments except during the short spells of President Rule in the state.
It is also very wrong that some civil society organisations have targeted a whole community for the violence and arson. We must blame only those persons who are directly involved and not the whole community. We would like to remind that various communities have been living together harmoniously and we should continue to do so for a peaceful and progressive Manipur. We should not forget majority of the people in different communities of Manipur stand for a united and progressive Manipur. However, we cannot let the conspirators of the violent agitation and arson scot free for the sake of a peaceful and progressive Manipur, the relesse added.