Last Updated on October 21, 2023 by SPN Editor
Imphal/ October 11, 2023 (SPN) | The Manipur government takes proactive measures to enforce directives issued by the Supreme Court of India on September 25, to reclaim Thangjing Hill from Kuki militants. These directives are aimed at safeguarding religious buildings and properties within the state, ensuring their sanctity, and preventing encroachments that could lead to potential law and order disruptions.
While these efforts signify progress in preserving religious sites, a recent controversy has cast a shadow over the region, specifically concerning Thangjing Hill near Moirang town. The placement of a cross and the flag of the Kuki militant group, Zomi Revolutionary Army (ZRA), atop Thangjing Hill has ignited a dispute amid ongoing ethnic violence.
The Supreme Court’s directives underscore the paramount importance of protecting religious buildings and properties against encroachment and damage. These directives also stress the need to secure the properties of displaced individuals, ensuring they remain untouched by encroachments.
To reinforce the implementation of these directives, the state government has directed District Collectors (DCs) and Superintendents of Police (SPs) in all districts to effectively carry out these orders. Furthermore, both the public and various organizations have been urged to comply with the directives, as any violations may result in legal consequences, including potential charges of contempt of the Supreme Court of India.
For generations, Meitei pilgrims have made their way to this sacred site, revering it as the abode of Thangjing, the ancestral deity of Moirang. Thangjing Hill, nestled in the Churachandpur district of Manipur, is a sacred place that attracts pilgrims, particularly Meitei Hindus.
To address these concerns, a committee known as the “Committee on Protection and Preservation of the Historical Rights of the Koubru and Thangjing Hill Ranges (CPPKT)” submitted a memorandum to Chief Minister N Biren on September 13.
The Committee also filed a complaint with the Moirang police station, urging the removal of the flag and cross. The committee emphasized the importance of protecting this sacred area under Section 4 of the Manipur Ancient & Historical Monuments and Archaeological and Remains Act 1976.
Despite the State government’s assurances of removing the flag and cross, no concrete actions have been taken. This has left the CPPKT questioning the government’s commitment to addressing the desecration and safeguarding the sacred site. As a result, the committee has been left to ponder how long they should continue waiting for the government’s response.
In response to allegations of encroachment on the sacred site of the Meitei community, the spokesperson for the Indigenous Tribal Leaders Forum (ITLF), Ginza Vualzong, has refuted these claims. Vualzong contends that the cross, representing Christianity, is a common symbol seen throughout their land, including churches and homes. Erecting a cross on Thangjing Hill is, in his view, a normal expression of faith and does not infringe on anyone’s land. Vualzong dismisses allegations of encroachment on the sacred site of the Moirang residents.
Last year, in October, the Manipur cabinet made a significant decision to designate specific areas for protection under Section 4 of the Manipur Ancient and Historical Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 1976. These areas include four hectares of Ibudhou Thangjing, two hectares of Koubru Laifamlen, and four hectares of Lai Pukhri. The overarching goal is to safeguard these areas from encroachments and to preserve their cultural and historical significance.
Lt. General Konsam Himalay Singh remains hopeful that all parties involved will respect the beliefs of Manipur’s substantial population, estimated to be over a million.
Moirang MLA Thongam Shanti highlighted that when viewed through powerful zoom lenses and drone footage, the objects placed on the hill give the impression of a desecrated site. The MLA further asserted that the cross and flag were positioned in the exact location where the shrine of Ibudhou Thangjing stands.
In expressing his views, the MLA drew a stark comparison, likening the alleged actions to those of terrorists encroaching upon sacred land. He underlined the region’s long-standing tradition of harmonious coexistence with various communities, including different tribes.
However, he also pointed out a recent surge in infiltration from Myanmar, noting that these newcomers lack familiarity and respect for the land.
The recent desecration of Mount Thangjing has illuminated the underlying tensions and divisions among the region’s diverse communities. The oppression of minority indigenous Meitei religion by the majority Christianity is a serious issue now.