TODAY -

Leimakhong: A microcosm of demographic change, deep regret
Source: Chronicle News Service / Thounaojam Brojendro

Imphal, September 16 2023: In a scenic and serene outskirt of the Imphal valley region of Manipur lies Leimakhong, a region emblematic of a profound demographic shift and a growing sense of lament.

Phuritsabam Jivan, a concerned resident, sheds light on a distressing trend: the gradual displacement of Meetei people from their ancestral lands.

Within this microcosm, the strategic establishment of new villages by people of Kuki community in areas traditionally dominated by other ethnic groups has unfolded, catching the Meeteis off guard and leaving them grappling with the reality of becoming refugees in their own homeland.

Over the decades, this silent transformation has taken shape, causing deep regret among the Meetei population as they witness their status and influence dwindling in the very land they once called their own.

Jivan, a former ward member of Khurkhul Gram Panchayat, points to Leimakhong, a location in Manipur, as a glaring example of this concerning trend.

He highlights that Leimakhong, previously known as Sanahal Lokchao, has witnessed a substantial shift in demographics over the years.

The original Meetei inhabitants, who revered the region, have now become a minority, and have been compelled to seek refuge elsewhere.

He attributes this dire situation to the oversight or lack of understanding by the Meeteis regarding the strategic manoeuvres employed by the Kukis, as well as the lack of decisive governmental actions over the years.

Jivan, who is now taking refuge in a relief centre at Khurkhul Awang Leikai community hall since May 29, said Leimakhong, nestled at the foothills of Kounu Ching, holds profound historical and religious significance for the Meeteis, who pay homage to Goddess Kounu Lairembi at this sacred site.

The locality is demarcated into Leimakhong Chingmang and Leimakhong Bazar, with a diverse settlement comprising Meetei, Naga, Kuki, and Nepali communities.

However, Kukis have now become the majority in Leimakhong Bazar area, further accentuating the demographic shift.

Jivan emphasises that the acquisition of land and paddy fields, often sold by Meeteis, by the Kukis has been a common practice.

The Kuki community then establishes new villages in the acquired areas, consequently altering the demographics and relegating Meeteis to the minority status in their native region.

This change in population dynamics has led to a range of challenges, and Meeteis have often found themselves subjected to unexpected challenges.

Despite these challenges, the Meetei community has played a pivotal role in fostering unity and brotherhood among the various communities.

Efforts aimed at promoting unity and the overall welfare of all communities have included the establishment of village authorities and clubs, such as the Leimakhong Chingmang Youth Club, for which a Kuki resident was nominated as the president.

The club promoted sports among the youth, especially football and set up a Football Lovers' Club, which plays major role in producing many promising players, who not only play in the state league but also for different clubs in different parts of the country.

However, while Meeteis were focused on social harmony and community development, the Kukis were quietly advancing their long-term agenda, he said.

As a result, Meeteis, who once held sway in the Leimakhong area, now find themselves forced to flee their homes and seek refuge in relief camps - something they never anticipated.

Jivan expresses deep sorrow over this disheartening reality, attributing it to the lack of awareness and proactive measures by the Meetei community, as well as governance challenges persisting over the years.

In conclusion, Jivan urges for greater awareness and proactive efforts to protect the rights, heritage, and rightful place of the Meetei community in the face of demographic shifts and evolving challenges.

It is crucial to ensure that the unique identity and legacy of the Meetei people are preserved and respected, allowing them to flourish and thrive in their native land.


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