TODAY -

The best way to settle Thangjing issue
- The People's Chronicle Editorial :: February 05, 2024 -



IN an earlier commentary, we have stressed on the need to settle the issue of Thangjing hill legally once and for all instead of resorting to violent confrontation amid the conflict between the Meetei/Meetei and Kuki-Chin that has been going on in Manipur since May 3 last year.

The nine-month long conflict has seen enough bloodshed, arson and desecration of religious places belonging to both the warring communities, and another round of violent confrontation over the desecration of a religious place of one community by another would jeopardise any gain made in the effort of restoring peace and normalcy in the strife-torn state.

So, when there is the possibility of resolving the issue peacefully through legal means, the option should not be neglected but used prudently as it can settle not just the instant case but also resolve many other issues that are directly or indirectly linked with the current conflict and its root causes.

This would ultimately help in securing the future of the state and its indigenous people from unwanted influxes and false narratives spun around to exert one's rights and authority over the land.

As we have stated, every claim made by the Kuki-Chin so far, whether it be about their indigeneity or history, could be contested in a court of law as there are enough documentary evidences to debunk them.

Legal approach should be adopted to counter the claim over Thangjing hill, where a large cross was erected recently and renamed it as Mount Olive.

The importance and significance of Thangjing hill to the Meitei/Meetei, who consider it as the sacred abode of one of their most revered deities, Lord Thangjing, and have been carrying out annual pilgrimage to the top of the hill since antiquity, is something that the people of Kuki-Chin community in Manipur, who started embracing Christianity only around 1910, should be able to dispute in any court.

The fact that the latest incident of erecting a giant cross atop the Thangjing hill and renaming it as Mount Olive has come despite a standing order of the Supreme Court of India for protecting all religious places and structures is a good starting point for the Meetei/Meetei, who revered it as the sacred abode of Lord Thangjing, to knock on the court's door for a legal fight to settle the issue of Thangjing hill permanently.

Acting on a writ petition filed regarding the destruction caused to religious structures following the ethnic conflict that broke out after Kuki-Chin people dashed with the Meitei/Meetei purportedly over the latter's demand for recognition as Scheduled Tribe, a three-judge Bench of the Supreme Court of India led by Chief Justice DY Chandrachud, and comprising Justices JB Pardiwala and Manoj Misra had on December 16, 2023 directed the government of Manipur to ensure all religious buildings including churches and temples are protected.

So, what a group of armed Kuki-Chin people, who are said to be cadres under the Suspension of Operation (SoO) agreement signed with the government, had done on Thangjing hilltop is not just an act of desecrating the religious place of another community but a complete disregard of rule of law, which is not going to be tolerated by the custodian of Indian Constitution.

Moreover, the task of any lawyer who intends to take up the case of preserving the sanctity of Thangjing hill, which the government of Manipur had already taken a decision to protect it from encroachment under Section 4 of Manipur Ancient and Historical Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 1976 way back in October, 2022, has been made easier by the video recording of the entire event uploaded on the social media.

This video alone is the evidence that is enough to incriminate armed Kuki-Chin militants under SoO pact of violating the agreed ground rules.

Last but not the least, Kuki-Chin people had been insisting on calling Thangjing hill as Thangting. But the same people have no second thought on remaining it as Mount Olive today.

This shows the hollowness of their claim over a site sacred to the Meitei/Meetei as their ancestral land.

What kind of people who are supposedly fighting for protecting their ancestral land would change the names of any of their ancestral places without any qualm?

The answer is simple - people who don't have emotional connection to that place.

In other words, illegal immigrants, a term Which people of Kuki-Chin community loathes the most in the current crisis.



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