TODAY -

The case of illegal migrants, asylum for select ones

SK Singh *



Instances of illegal migrants from across the Indo-Myanmar border entering the state are tradition-old. These instances were taking rounds during the last several decades in a more significant scale. More worrying could be the case of some natives sponsoring it over the years. In regards to the ongoing issue of some Kukis being traded as recent migrants, the questions of, ' could this be orchestrated by natives belonging to sub clans from across the country', are sensitive.

The fact however remains alive that groups of these Myanmar's Kukis enter Manipur, take refuge in the sparse hill areas adjoining Myanmar over the years, all protected by the so called natives. The reasons for these intrusions and their safe stay in villages mostly controlled by Kukis are not far to seek.

Only recently according to reports in local papers of August 11, 5 Myanmar nationals including a woman, were picked up from Ngathal village, Churachandpur. They were staying in a house when the police picked them up. More intriguing is the information that they were in a rented house and they were identified as foreigners, all from Moniwa in Myanmar.

This is intriguing indeed, 'how Myanmar's nationals were sheltered in villages in CCP.' Still more worrisome is the report that earlier a contingent of 80 Myanmar nationals were found living in remote border villages in Churachandpur. And, lo, these 80 strong groups of families were staying in rented houses, were actively engaged in cultivating, weaving for a living.

More questions can be raised then could be answered how foreigners in their hundreds were sheltered in border villages in hill districts of Manipur without information of the district authorities. And they lived like usual normal natives by engaging themselves in farming, weaving, hunting and fishing.

A few instantaneous curiosity could be:-
i) could they be Kukis in a village of the Kukis or sub clans of the Kukis?,
ii) could also the native villagers align to sub-tribes belonging to the Kukis?,
iii) what happened to the Village Chiefs, Village Authorities in refraining from reporting intrusion of foreigners to the District authorities?
iv) is this silence on the part of the Village Authorities an understanding with some other groups
v) could then there be a hidden agenda with possible wider ramifications?

I can recall how such intrusion of foreigners mostly, Kukis or sub clans were allowed to settle in border areas in Molcham village in Chandel district. This was a case in 2007. Reports of intrusion by 830 persons from across Myanmar in border areas in Molcham came to the notice of Manipur Human Rights Commission. Police reports talked about 315 persons intruding the village.

Clarification from the villagers were referring to intense fight between United Liberation Front of Manipur taking refuge in Myanmar and the Myanmar Army resulting to huge population of Myanmar seeking shelter in Molcham village.

Members of MHRC, according to reliable source, rushed to Molcham village to establish the facts. When contacted the villagers, they could see only two or three people who too claimed to be natives of the village, not Myanmar's. The visiting team could find however a vast tract of land cleared for human settlement.

The few people that showed up too could not understand any bits of Manipuri, as is the practice across the hill districts. Most, nay, almost all speak some rudimentary Manipuri; village Chiefs, elders speak fluent Manipuri.

When confronted about their total lack of any bits of spoken Manipuri, and their possibility of being from Myanmar, some people in the village defiantly confronted the Members of MHRC, arguing that they could not and should not force the villagers in outlying villages to understand Manipuri or Meitei Lon to these villagers in far flung areas.

The fact of vast tract of land getting cleared, very few people appearing before the Commission, the defiance of knowledge of Manipuri or not plus the vitiated atmosphere as reported by the members of the MHRC, all leave enough space for suspect.

In this context, the recent move of the government to put a curb on new villages in Hill Districts appears to be timely. As it is, villages with less than 50 households are not eligible for government schemes, other benefits like Indira Gandhi National Old Age Pension and other welfare measures.

Instances of 136 fake villages alone in Chakpikarong sub division, Chandel district, are adequate measures for illegal migrants from across the border, while they are most welcome to the native villagers, to be reckoned as natives. The larger agenda, increasing the population size from across the border with tribes with similar tongue.

Even when there is wide spread speculation about the demand for a Kuki Land in the midst of demand for greater Nagaland or Meitei land within the state of Manipur such spoaradic instances of tribes entering illegally from across the state deserves immediate remedial measures. As it is the state is laden with divisive forces even among the tribes, further still, among the majority Meiteis and the minority Tribals.

Geographically the age old 90% is to 10% between the hills and the valley, is no more in true perspective if the settlers in these areas are taken into account. While various study groups claim that in terms of land occupation, the traditional belief of 90:10 is totally distorted to the extent that the ration could be not much better than 97.5:2.5. Though no authentic records are available officially, the random proportion could have some weight considering the ground realities, the vivid scenario occurring around.

Worsening the situation is perhaps the gap, the mind-set of divide, artificial or otherwise, between the hills and the valley. A situation in view could be the recent blockade imposed by ATSUM on the National Highways for non-tabling of the ADC Bill 2021 forwarded by the HAC to the just-concluded Assembly Session. The GOM was late in clarifying its stand that the ADC Bill-2021 has divisive agenda.

According to it, the said Bill mentioned about dividing Manipur into two and have two CSs and two secretariats. The ATSUM apparently ignorant of these finer details let loose obstructive measures which only in effect impacted the normal life of the valley dwellers. The fact remains that the views of the CM on the issue of 'divisive agenda' was too late for the ATSUM to appreciate.


(to be continued).


* SK Singh wrote this article for e-pao.net
The writer can be reached at kunjabiharis(AT)rediffmail(DOT)com
This article was webcasted on August 17 2022 .



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