Govt enforces SC order amidst Thangjing hill row
Source: Chronicle News Service

Imphal, October 10 2023: In a significant development, the state government has taken up proactive measures to enforce the directives issued by the Supreme Court of India on September 25, pertaining to the protection of religious buildings and properties in the state.

These legal mandates aim to preserve the sanctity of religious sites by preventing encroachments and safeguarding the properties of displaced individuals amidst rising concerns over potential law and order disruptions within the state.

Meanwhile, a recent controversy has emerged concerning Thangjing hill near Moirang town.

The erection of a cross and a flag of the Kuki militant group, Zomi Revolutionary Army (ZRA), atop Thangjing hill has stirred a massive dispute amid the ongoing ethnic violence.

The Supreme Court's directives emphasised the protection of religious buildings and properties against encroachment and damage.

Additionally, the government of Manipur has been tasked with securing the properties of displaced individuals and preventing encroachments.

Failure to adhere to these direc tives may lead to contempt of court charges, the SC ruling said.

To ensure strict compliance, the state government has instructed DCs and SPs of all dis tricts to effectively implement the Supreme Court's orders.

Furthermore, the order issued by commissioner (home) said that these directives should be adhered to by the general public and organisations, emphasising that no exceptions will be made for violating the orders.

Any violations will be dealt with firmly under the relevant laws of the land, with individuals liable to face contempt of the Supreme Court of India.

The state government has urged all concerned, including public functionaries, to comply with the court's orders to prevent any contempt proceedings.

Concurrently, a heated controversy is going on surrounding Thangjing hill near Moirang town.

The controversy stems from the erection of a cross and a flag belonging to the Kuki militant group ZRA, atop Thangjing hill, which came to light on September 11.This act has ignited tensions among the Meetei community, as Thangjing hill holds immense religious and cultural significance for the community.

The Meetei community, predominantly from Moirang area, has been undertaking pilgrimage to Thangjing hill, venerating it as the abode of the deity Ibudhou Thangjing, which is extensively mentioned in the Moirang Kangleirol of the erstwhile Moirang kingdom.

However, recent encroachments have sparked outrage within the community, raising questions about the preservation of their sacred site, which now falls under the jurisdiction of Churachandpur district.

ITLF spokesperson Ginza Vualzong denied any encroach ment on the Meetei community's sacred site, asserting their right to install any Christian symbol at any place within the district.

Nevertheless, various civil society groups, including the Association of Meeteis in the Americas (AMA), have urged the government to address the alleged encroachments on Thangjing hill.

AMA emphasised the severity of the matter by drawing parallels to the desecration of holy sites in other parts of India.

They likened the desecration of Thangjing hill to the desecration of revered Indian sites such as Kedarnath, Badrinath, or the Amarnath shrine, underscoring the gravity of the situation.

In an effort to protect sacred sites like Thangjing hill, the Manipur cabinet in October last had taken steps to include them under relevant legislation.

However, recent events have brought the issue to the forefront, necessitating swift and decisive action to preserve the sanctity of the sacred site and address the community's concerns.

Ibudhou Thangjing's shrine on the hill was not visible from Moirang valley in the past, but is visible now with the help of binoculars since a large part of the hillside has been deforested, a Moirang resident who grew up in the lakeside town and who has done studies on deforestation told NDTV.

People have to cross a few initial lower-height ranges, then a middle spot before finally reaching the hilltop shrine.

After the government constructed a road from the Kwakta side to the hilltop, insurgents began misusing the road to travel up and down fast, the Moirang resident alleged.

Earlier, only a dirt path existed till the hilltop.

Located within the hilly terrains of Manipur, this revered site was incorporated into the recently established hill district of Churachandpur in 1969.Over the past few years, this sacred location has emerged as a contentious issue, with conflicting rights and assertions intensifying between select hill villages and the devotees of the deity.

Lt General Konsam Himalay Singh expressed optimism, stating, "I am hopeful that all concerned parties will honour the beliefs of the substantial population, estimated to be over a million".

The residents of Moirang, situated near Northeast India's largest freshwater lake, Loktak, hold the deity Ibudhou Thangjing in high regard as the guardian of their region.

Moirang MLA Thongam Shanti informed NDTV that when viewing the hill through powerful zoom lenses and drone footage, the objects placed on the hill give the impression of a desecrated site.

The MLA asserted that the cross and flag were positioned in the exact location where the shrine of Ibudhou Thangjing stands.

The MLA expressed his views, comparing the alleged actions to those of terrorists encroaching upon sacred land.

He emphasised the long-standing tradition of living harmoniously with various communities, including tribes.

However, he noted a recent surge in infiltration from Myanmar, stating that these newcomers lack familiarity and respect for the land.

He expressed strong belief in maintaining the unity of Manipur and trusts that the tribes they have coexisted peacefully with would not desecrate one of the most sacred shrines of the Meetei community.

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