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Pics of a demolished home, bulldozed Meitei locality at Churachandpur: Meiteis seek justice

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Imphal, Sep 8: Four months after ethnic violence in Manipur, 37-year-old Ronald Meisnam lost his cool after seeing two contrasting photos: one of his native home at Mandop Leikai, a Meitei locality at Churachandpur district headquarters where he was born and brought up, and the other of the land after his house was completely demolished.

Seeing this, his young friend Amarjit Maibam, a 28 year old also from the Kuki-Chin-Mizo dominated district, with a heavy heart utters- “all Meitei houses at Khuga Tampak numbering nearly 1000, including ours, were set ablaze, looted and destroyed by miscreants, and now our native village wears the look of a war devastated zone.”

It must be noted that Ronal and Amarjit are among those 15,000 odd Meiteis whose houses were destroyed in the unprecedented ethnic violence unfolding in Manipur on May 3 in the 11 different Meitei villages in Churachandpur.

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Currently, they are taking refuge at different relief camps in the valley districts. What adds fuel to the fire is the demolition of those numerous houses that belonged to the Meiteis after they left their Churachandpur homesteads after miscreants destroyed and burned them down in front of the police.

“After we left Churachandpur owing to the violence, numerous Meitei houses, including ours, have been flattened in a systematic by using heavy machineries by miscreants as if they are the rightful owners of the Meitei plots,” says Ronald. The police, who are well aware of these unlawful acts, have not taken any action against the culprits,” he said.

Meanwhile, Chief Minister N Biren Singh was informed about these illegal activities, and he has assured action against the perpetrators. However, no report of the arrest of the culprits has been made to date, compounding the angst for the hapless owners.

Pics of a demolished home, bulldozed Meitei locality at Churachandpur: Meiteis seek justice

“Unlike Churchandpur, none of the Kuki houses and the properties that were destroyed in the valley districts during the clash, have not been bulldozed and flattened, and the structures are heavily guarded by the police and the security forces round the clock. Upon this, we strongly feel that there are two separate laws –one in the valley and the other in the hills,” he lamented.

According to a highly reliable state official, Churachandpur SP has already taken up a suo moto case on the matter of miscreants levelling the Meitei localities in Churachandpur. The official asserted that all those found guilty during the investigation would be punished as per the law. He further informed that internally displaced persons or other victims of the conflict who have lost important documents or records like pattas of landholdings, educational certificates, and even financial records need not worry as these legal documents would be re-issued to them by the concerned District Magistrates where they are currently seeking refuge. All they have to do is file complaints with the concerned district magistrate. All district magistrates have been accordingly instructed to do the needful, the top bureaucrat said.

Even though the state sees no reason or action for immediate restoration of normalcy in the state, the two, like other displaced Meities, have the deep zeal to return to their native homes to avoid snapping the legacy of their lineage there.

“Churachandpur is the only tribal district in the state where the largest number of Meiteis are living. We don’t want to set a new history when all Meiteis leave the district and scatter in the valley areas or elsewhere,” Ronald said. “My father, who was born at the same Mandop Leikai residence, was reluctant to leave home even in the peak of attack by Kuki miscreants on May 3, asking why he should run away from his birthplace. Only after our hard insistence, we all left home with all despondency,” he added.

Ronald further said that after the Kuki-Paite clash broke out in 1997, the Zomi Revolutionary Army (ZRA) was formed to protect the Zo people. Upon such formation, other Kuki militant groups in the district also enhanced ground control, and since then, these outfits have made up their strongholds in their respective areas in Churachandpur, Ronald said. In the wake of this development, the Meities, who had strong socio-fabric bindings with all communities in the district, gradually loosened from the circle and began facing uneasiness in society.

“Because of various factors, including the inconsequential outlook towards them, many Meitei people had a hard time to get domicile certificates and even Patta/Jamabandi for their own land from the concerned office in Churachandpur. Among the Meiteis, those who had connections with influential persons got such dossiers, and others were left in the lurch,” added Ronald.

He goes on to say that “Khumujamba Pattadar Association” only to pursue to the district officials to get their land Pattas. Because of the unconducive atmosphere, some Meiteis had left their native villages and shifted to other valley districts, he recalled. “In the midst of this perturbing situation, our rich neighbours had offered huge amounts to buy our land, but my father flatly rejected it only for the love of his birth place. Now everything is gone after the ethnic clash unfolded,” said Ronal, who got his BE (Electronics and Communications) degree from Manipur Institute of Technology (MIT). Ronald is one of the displaced Meiteis who raised the popular demand to the government to take stringent legal action against those miscreants who flattened their houses. “We are at the crossroads now. We strongly urge the government to give exemplary punishment to those perpetrators who bull-dozed and flattened our native houses. The government should also take necessary measures to ensure we return back to our native homes and resettle there”.

Also read: Assam Police detains at least 50 persons for attacking policemen on duty in Lakhimpur

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