Rider set on resettlement of Chassad village
R LESTER MAKANG
UKHRUL, 31st Mar: Tangkhul Naga Zingsho Longphang (TNZL), the sub-zonal customary body of the Tangkhul community, has come out strongly against the resettlement/reconstruction process of Chassad village in Kamjong township, demanding that the ownership of Chassad territory must be first vested to Sampui village.
In a press statement signed by its chairman Joshua Konghar, TNZL said that Sampui Village is the sole and absolute owner of the entire Chassad territory, and that no settlement/resettlement of Chassad Kukis shall be permitted without them first admitting the fact that Chassad village is a temporary settlement devoid of prior written consent of Sampui Village authority, demanding that the village must accordingly settle the accumulating arrears of traditional Lousal and payment of traditional Lousal of Rs 1,00,000 only per annum hereon.
"Lately, there is some sort of brouhaha erupting over reconstruction/resettlement of fire-ravaged Chassad Village with the assistance of the State Government in the ancestral territory of Sampui Village. Therefore, in the best interest of upholding communal tranquillity within the State, we are hereby obliged to caution that no resettlement activity of Chassad Kukis shall be taken up within Sampui village without first complying with all the requisite terms," it warned.
It continued that the existing settlement of Chassad Kukis is purely in the nature of temporary tenurial settlement on the traditional/ancestral land/territory of Sampui Village, subject to payment of traditional Lousal with no legal right to occupancy. "It is a matter of Public record that Chassad Kukis were originally permitted for temporary settlement at Grihang village from where they subsequently migrated/shifted to Bungpa Khullen in the year 1919-1920. Thereafter, on their eviction/banishment from Bungpa Khullen by an order of the Court, Chassad Kukis were permitted for temporary settlement at the existing site of Hungdangram/Karongkaphung of Sampui Village on pure humanitarian consideration only in the year 1940. However, at the risk of repeating the history of communal tension between the two communities, Chassad Kukis lately have been breaching peace by raising false claim of ownership over the said land," TNZL said.
So far, Tangkhul Naga Community has not responded to all the spiteful maneuvering and melodrama being played out before us after the recent Chassad violence. But now, things have come to such a pass with falsehood compelling us to bring to the notice of the State Government our resolute stand, the zonal body continued.
To make the matter even worse, the state authorities seem to have come up with a heavily lopsided approach in dealing with the situation wherein the two suffered physical injuries and property loss. So far, the government has identified Chassad Villagers as the only victims of the recent violence, it added.
While appreciating the State Government for its efforts towards restoring peace and normalcy in Kamjong Township, post-March 15 inter-village clash between Chassad and Sampui Villages, TNZL said that "it deems it an opportune juncture to set the record straight and apprise the State Government about the ‘mendacious claim’ of Chassad territory made, time after time, by Chassad Village and consequently, the need for vesting ownership rights/recognition to Sampui Village which is the true owner of the said territory, before resettlement/reconstruction of Chassad Village could happen, to ensure lasting peace and harmony in the region."
Correspondingly, in as much as the violent mob outburst that had caused the recent mayhem in Kamjong Chassad Village that had caused destruction to over hundred houses and properties worth crores of rupees belonging to both parties, attracted widespread condemnation, the antecedents and the underlying issue over which the said violence erupted between the two Villages, merit equally serious inquisition and examination by the all concerned to bring the long-drawn-out conflict to a logical conclusion, it further pleaded.
Sampui and Chassad Villages have been locked in a long-running land dispute with the later frequently making false claims of ownership over a stretch of land spanning from Khoikai village of Chassad village which Sampui village said is situated within its ancestral boundary, including the two Kuki habitation areas.
Chassad Kukis had also attempted to claim the vast land currently occupied by the Kamjong Assam Rifles which falls under Hungdangram/Korangkaphung area of Sampui Village but the court in an order dated 06/10/2007 had recognised K Malungring of Sampui Village as the rightful owner of the land.
There is ample evidence to prove that the present Chassad Village was a nomadic tribe from neighbouring Myanmar (then Burma) that had migrated to the ancestral lands of the Tangkhuls around 1919 when they first settled in Grihang Village and then shifted to Bungpa Khullen in the year 1919-20 after then Manipur State Durbar president L. Peter permitted them on humanitarian ground because Chassad Kukis have no legitimate lands for permanent settlement in Tangkhul lands.
Giving detailed accounts of the recent Chassad incident, it said that "Prior to this event, there was already an air of uneasiness between the two villages after Chassad local arbitrarily cut down trees for jhum cultivation at a disputed land within the territorial fields were set ablaze by unknown persons. Blaming Sampui inhabitants for the arson without any validity, Chassad Villagers went on the rampage and burnt down a Shaktiman truck Forest Office, Govt. of Manipur and an under construction petrol pump owned by Kamjong locals. Armed with lethal weapons, the mob even thrashed some workers at the petrol pump in the same evening".
"And as if that were not enough, on the following morning (16 March), the chassad Villagers started blocking the Sampui Junction along the Ukhrul-Kamjong road about 4 Km. before reaching Kamjong District headquarters, and stopped passenger vehicles crossing their village and even resorted to stone-pelting at passengers who were coming towards Kamjong town."
Hoping to resolve the matter amicably, Sampui-Kamjong Villagers extended a goodwill gesture for peaceful negotiations between the two villages and promptly responded to Chassad Villages’ proposal for a talk. However, much contrary to the supposed understanding, when Kamjong Villagers approached the Village, Chassad Villagers resorted to stone-pelting and inflicted injuries to a few persons.
Then a violent confrontation ensued between the two sides. And in a flash, the mob actions swirled out of control, leading to the Chassad conflagration that consumed more than hundred houses and several vehicles.
Unfortunately, in the aftermath of the inter-village clash, it has been observed that myriad Kuki organisations including Kuki Inpi Manipur (KIM) and Kuki Students’ Organization (KSO) have been using the incident as a launching pad for propaganda,
Self-delusion and falsehood deliberately fabricated to masquerade as the truth aimed at distorting facts, which has virtually flooded the social media and has even found its way to the mainstream media as well. Obviously, being obsessed with taking a stab at projecting the unfortunate incident that involved the two Villages, as a communal flare-up wherein Kukis were the only victims, these organisations labelled it with obnoxious and old-fashioned terms like ‘ethnic cleansing’ and ‘genocide’ executed against the Kukis. They have even gone to the extent of dragging in the name of NSCN-IM which has nothing to do with the inter-village feud, it added.