From Sajik Tampak to Somtal Salient
- Scintillating Impressions -
- Part 2 -

By:- RS Jassal *

SAJIK TAMPIK, a look at : At Sajik Tampak, I was shown buildings under exclusive use by various constituent' wings of UNLF. The ground in Hongkong Bazaar now in use as Mechanical Transport of 8 AR Battalion was the parade ground of UGs &a few passing out parades were conducted there. One wooden building near Chief's house still held PREPAK painted over it in striking bold letters.

Sajik Tampak bazaar lights are solar lights more than 20 in numbers duly marked with name of provider unit of Assam Rifles & sanctioning order number under MCA. Nothing much of activity other than one or odd private shop dealing with pharmacy and PHC with no medical officer or medicines even after 'Liberated Zone' theory ended was seen.

Sajik Tampak is an area with a sceneric view, one ridge protruding over the other in accentuation goes right up to a top which now stands occupied by AR, earlier an UG-OP (Observation Post). It keeps area miles around under observation in clear weathers. A road of 9 km length join Aigejang was said to have been cut by the SF resources to maintain newly opened post providing surface communication to villagers too.

River Kanelok was in spate so our team could not cross to go to Aigejang. It was feast for eyes to see national tri-colour fluttering over St. Mary School building & Govt. school buildings which remained folded for almost 15 years due to no civil administration functioned.

Shaluk a semblance to bottleneck was retrieved from UG control after 7-10 days struggle. It is now occupied with 6AR battalion HQ elements. Its medical services, CSD services and waiting shed for passengers to go either side to Tayang and to Chakpikarong were seen bubbling with human activity.

One lady Shangshung was seen moving on road under mental shock. It was told Naga-Kuki conflict & UG-SFs firing shocked her belief in humanity. Such are the psychological affects of social conflicts which could be seen uninvited, 15 villages of Anal origin had internally shifted to Chakpikarong during Naga Kuki conflict and they are 13,000 - 15,000 in population are crammed up there since 1992 - 93 and in spite of improved situations the villagers are still staying as displaced persons.

In spite of three State Assembly elections, no political leader has shown any interest to rehabilitate them back in their original homes. 6 Assam Rifles have established one very good weaving & tailoring centre for these people which is highly appreciated by locals and is well receieved.

One group of local believers in Lord Christ were seen moving bare footed, clad in white clothing's and they have established separate church (Adventists) , I was told school teachers, pastors or Govt, employees of this group attend their duties bare footed as per their religious belief & social ethos.

Imagine Road Connectivity : Road Chapkikarong- Mombi- to Joupi, a distance of 29 km presented a tough scene. We took lots of photographs / video graphs, our light vehicles skidding & at places floating over chuckling mud. It also presented challenging task to the state PWD.

Credit goes of course to Shri. K. Ranjit Minister for PWD who took it as a challenge to first construct 30 culverts to gravel the road for one season then go in tarmacing. It is said he travelled at many places on foot to oversee the culvertings in progress.

Our vehicles were stopped at Mombi for two hours to wait for another convoy from opposite side (Joupi) to pass as road strip was extremely narrow. Another feat done by the AR at Mombi. Water channelled from jungle approx 3 km and stored in syntax tanks for use by villagers & the troops too. A distance of 29 km took us 8 hours to reach Joupi. What a horrible journey !

Joupi is linking Khengjoi range with Samtal range. The CO at Joupi presented a wonderful CD on flora & fauna & one homestead photo depicting courtyard life with huge pig relaxing & hens/pets including a monkey perched on it, then orchards some even rare, were all wonderful.

In the morning on way to Sehlon, local primary school children sang national anthem in tandem without prompting. We recorded same in Rattan's camera. I wish it comes in video film sometimes as presently my persuasion to him failed to yield results.

Road Joupi- old Somtal (a distance of 42 km) is studded with places like Hengshi, Hollengjang and Shelon which were earlier strongholds of UGs are now occupied by various AR posts. Sehlon to Somtal ridge almost having nil population upto Old Somtal. 10 constables of MR/Civil police were seen at Old Somtal Our endeavour to visit New Somtal was withheld due to security reasons.

Tour concluded in five days travel & our team called on Brigadier Balbir Singh, Commander 26 Sector Assam Rifles to thank him & his CO's, Col. Ravinder Kumar, Col Sah, Col. Rajeshwar Singh for facilitating our visit in smooth sailing.

During interaction he detailed various programmes/projects (people oriented) in the pipeline like forthcoming educational general awareness tours for school children from Somtal to Delhi, MCA projects on providing water, medical care & infrastructures to schools, adoption of village /children & about pro- active role in curbing drug trafficking & discourage border smuggling in timber, wildlife (mis) activity to achieve eco-environs balance for cleanliness of social atmosphere & finally to make the entire district a safe zone for civil administration to extend activity right up to IB to achieve area domination.

Impressions : Since centuries the hill people grossly mauled by corruption game due neglect by the monarchy initially, half hearted or dismal participation in election process after independence due lack of awareness coupled with illiteracy, infrastructural deprivations and exploited by vested interests of the fixed crop of their traditional & self styled well wishers who remained selfish and deceitful, unsuspectingly though.

Exploitation by Khulakpas, Chiefs, Rajas, Headmen under domino policy to grab the Govt. funds by hobnobbing with civil administration became the origin point of raising UGs outfit(s) developing into insurgency followed by cunning intra nexus causative to proliferation of additional UGs outfits within one and the same ethnic order. Since they operated within their isolated and compartmentalized areas they used to be taken as their only saviours.

Once maintenance of UGs who splintered all over became overbearing, and social evils started creeping in like killings, kidnapping & extortions progressively which invited ultimate thrust act by the centre in 2004. Excellent results of one year sustained operations with no civil casualty were seen as a new milestone in military operations in Counter Insurgency grid.

Painfully though it was only SFs, JCO's officer(s) and a few men who suffered fatal losses/injuries/wounds. It is a wonder, how SFs underwent extreme difficulties to operate in unknown area under absolutely hard scale living conditions in tents under extreme weathers of monsoon/winter in company of mosquitoes, leaches and snakes. It can be well said that it is NATIONAL SPIRIT of service to nation that keep them moving under any condition.

Dead End : By no means can it be said that UGs influence has been eliminated from Manipur soil. Shared and common soil is yet available for shelter and space across IB's within same/or similar ethno-cultural spreads. Hence operations of extortions and selective killings still loom large on people where no SFs can be made available and they can strike on weak targets as & when they wish to do so.

Developmental works under central scheme projects only are get-going. It is yet not a less surprise why state does not involve in securing its borders in a big way since central SFs., scissor precision operations have facilitated them now to do so. It is now high time for the state government to launch developmental activities in the hills too with fair and dare governance at the same speed as is being done in the valley.

Once Govt. takes out two steps, ten steps are surely going to come forth from the hill people. It is worth trying and at the same time worth appreciating that people now well understand difference between road & track under NREGS, they are capable of differentiating between PHC and PHC devoid of medicines, nurses & doctors between electric current & kerosene lamps.

IInd world war vintage road Samtal Salient to Tengnoupal with incomplete bridges upto Joupi (in disuse, hence had turned into tracks at some spots) was cut & made fit for use by the Assam Rifles with Army Dozers. Electric poles without wires studding hills on road Mompi-Joupi, communication tower at Poulen under construction for past one year and peripheral DC road (30 KM) connecting Khengjoi Range to Moreh lying in neglect if done up can add to the life of people of that area.

If necessary, Panchayati Raj be implemented compulsorily if autonomous councils can not be revived, All technicalities apart, one fails to understand difference between a Panchayat at and autonomous council which aims same ie to run local self government through constitutionally elected representatives.

Public transport system (Govt run) be introduced with sincerity as developmental activity without this basic vehicle of social advance is meaningless. In short Government MUST ACT & act fast to revive public faith in Govt and ignite self pride in tribals of belonging to the largest democratic country of the world ie INDIA. Concluded....

* RS Jassal wrote this article for Hueiyen Lanpao - English Edition. This article was webcasted on June 24th, 2009.

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