IMPHAL, Aug 25 – The economic blockade and counter bandh issues arising out of the demand of upgradation of the Sadar Hills area in Manipur’s Senapati district into a full-fledged revenue district rocked the second day of the ongoing Assembly session today.
Though the day’s nearly three-hour-long discussion on the demand for creation of the Sadar Hills district couldn’t come to any concrete conclusion, the House of 60 MLAs is likely to adopt a resolution during Friday’s session.
Manipur Chief Minister O Ibobi Singh, responding to Opposition leader Radhabinod Koijam initiated discussion during the day’s session,said that a district reorganisation committee has been constituted in order to bring a consensus decision for Sadar Hills distrct creation.
The State chief secretary- headed committee will take opinion of members of all communities to bring about an amicable solution to the problem, he said and appealed to the agitators to withdraw the bandh and blockade in public interest.
Questioning the setting up of the reorganization committee only after Sadar Hills issue rocked the State, the Sadar Hills Districthood Demand Committee(SHDDC) on Wednesday had already rejected State Cabinet’s decision to constitute a ‘committee on reorganization of administration and police district boundary’.
Opposition leader Koijam and his colleague O Joy while sharing their views urged the government to shorten the committee’s deadline and submit the report within 2 to 3 months.
A total of nine legislators, both from ruling and Opposition took part in the day’s discussion wherein most of the MLAs supported the demand to create a separate district on its administrative convenience while MLA Ng Bijoy of Manipur People’s Party suggested the name of the proposed district as Kangpokpi in place of Sadar Hills.
The SHDDC had been imposing economic blockade on the two highways of the State, demanding a separate Sadar Hills district since July 31 midnight while United Naga Council imposed an indefnite bandh on the highways since August 21 to protest the alleged move to bifurcate “Naga areas” in creating the district.
The economic blockade was designed to block all kinds of goods vehicles on the two National Highways 39 and 53 impacting the prices of essential commodities besides scarcity of life saving drugs, petroleum products.
The Assam Tribune
Boundary demarcation rider to Sadar Hills dist status demand Report in three months time : CM
IMPHAL, Aug 25 : With the SPF Government fully convinced that the prece-ding Governments could not declare Sadar Hills as a full fledged district due to uncertainties and disputes over the area/boundary of the proposed district though all the successive Governments of the last 39 years agreed in principle to the long standing demand, the incumbent Government has decided to demarcate the existing boundary before declaring Sadar Hills as a full fledged district.
The present issue of Sadar Hills district demand was taken up by Opposition leader Radhabinod Koijam during a short duration discussion in the State Assembly today.
Though it was taken up as a short duration discussion, ruling and Opposition members of the House deliberated on the issue for about three hours taking into account gravity of the issue.
From the Opposition bench, the discussion was participated by O Joy, Thangminlen Kipgen, Mo-rung Makunga, Dr Ng Bijoy, RK Anand, V Hangkhan-lian, K Wungnaoshang and Th Shyamkumar.
From the ruling bench, Haokholet Kipgen, N Mangi and leader of the House Chief Minister O Ibobi took part in the deliberation.
Taking part in the deliberation, Chief Minister O Ibobi stated that previous Governments noted the Sadar Hills district demand as reasonable but with a clause ‘subject to boundary’.
The Sadar Hills district demand including the matter of boundary has been discussed by the State Cabinet repeatedly.
After looking into both the options of constituting a commission with a Judge from outside the State who would be neutral, and constitution of a Cabinet sub-committee, the State Cabinet decided on forming a committee with the Chief Secretary as chairman as the former two options would take around two years in identifying and demarcating the boundaries.
The committee would submit its report within three months. The committee may also finish its assigned task within a short period and submit its report within a month, said the Chief Minister.
Maximum efforts are being put in to settle the issue before the Assembly elections, Ibobi informed the house.
The Committee on Re-organisation of Administration and Police District Boundary headed by the Chief Secretary may also seek opinion of the public, if necessary, said Ibobi.
If it is for administrative convenience, not only Sadar Hills, many other districts may also be created. The Government is aware that the people are weary of waiting for district status for the last 30 years.
However, if demands must be fulfilled because there is strong pressure, similar pressures would be exerted on the Government for countless demands from different directions.
Seeking sometime to fulfil the demand, the Chief Minister appealed to lift the blockade.
Ibobi also appealed to the Naga brethrens to call off the counter blockade.
He stated that the Government would work out a formula which would be acceptable to all.
Raising the agenda for the short duration discussion, Radhabinod noted that the demand for Sadar Hills district is more than 30 years old and that it is not some casual demand.
He also observed that demand is not about sovereignty or homeland but a mere district for more effective administration.
On the other hand, the United Naga Council (UNC) has imposed counter blockade on National Highways opposing any move to form Sadar Hills district without their consent.
Pointing out that the whole territory of Manipur is for the people of Manipur, Radhabinod remarked that a large number of hill people have now settled in the valley. All the attempts aimed at disintegrating Manipur should be tackled by the collective strength of the people. The concept of South Nagaland was formulated by some supporters of a particular insurgent group who wish to integrate with Nagaland.
Opinions and views of the Naga people with regard to the Sadar Hills issue should be duly noted and work out an amicable solution to the long standing issue, the opposition leader asserted. A comprehensive study should also be made about the demand for alternative arrangement.
The assertion that certain areas should not be included in Sadar Hills must have certain justifications. Nevertheless, it is imperative to review the MLR and LR Act.
Administrative convenience should be the prime factor for any demand and creation of new districts.
To enable the general public enjoy the benefits of effective governance, there is a need to create many more districts, he asserted.
Noting that the demand for Sadar Hills district is pending for quite a long period of time, Radhabinod appealed to the Government to take due initiatives.
If there is any need, the Government may convene joint meeting of political parties and civil society organisations and discussed the issue jointly.
Cautioning that inflicting hardships to the mass in the course of the agitation for granting district status would erode public sympathy and support, Radhabinod advised the bandh/general strike sponsors to find another means.
In the meantime, the UNC has imposed counter blockade while Imphal-Jiribam highway has been languishing in the most pathetic condition. Whatever may be the cause, such strangulation of the mass cannot be justified under any circumstances.
Such utter insensitivity may arouse people’s sentiments and may lead to communal tension, Radhabinod stated.
O Joy stated that there is no harm in creation of new districts for more effective administration.
Though the demand for Sadar Hills district is justified, the Government cannot fulfil it in haste, even if it wishes to.
Those demanding Sadar Hills district, those opposing the demand and the other party who are opposing inclusion of any valley area in the proposed Sadar Hills district need to sit down and re-think. Violence in the course of democratic agitation cannot be justified, Joy asserted. The matter need to be looked into thoroughly after constituting a high level district re-organisation commission.
Taking part in the discussion, Thangminlen Kipgen asserted that the question of hastiness would never arise in the creation of Sadar Hills as the same demand is already 40 years old.
He also reminded that Sadar Hills was among the six hill districts agreed for creation by leaders of the hills in 1972.
He also recalled of the Chief Minister’s earlier statement that Sadar Hills would be declared as a full fledged district once the necessary infrastructure are installed.
With all the necessary infrastructure already installed, people have run out of their patience to wait any longer, Thangminlen stated. He urged the Government to declare district status of Sadar Hills first along with constitution of the boundary commission. There is no harm in removing all the inconveniences. According to convenience, an area can be merged to Imphal or Tamenglong district, he added.
Dr Ng Bijoy and RK Anand called for earliest fulfilment of the Sadar Hills district demand after constituting a district re-organisation commission as well as for lifting of the blockade.
MLA Haokholet Kipgen asked for declaration of district status first.
Growth of multiple issues following the Sadar Hills district demand has bred certain suspicion among the people of Sadar Hills if Sadar Hills would be taken away to some other place, he observed.
V Hangkhalian asked the Government to make its position clear whether Sadar Hills would be given district status or not.
Leaders’ meet endorses district demand
IMPHAL, Aug 25:A day-long joint leaders’ meet held under the aegis of United Committee Manipur (UCM) at MDU hall here today has deliberated on the public grievances inflicted by the blockade along the National Highways and its remedial measures.
Many of the leaders who spoke at the occasion endorsed the demand for upgrading Sadar Hills into a full-fledged revenue district and opined that the Government should concede to the demand without any further delay.
Among those who spoke at the meeting, Prof N Joykumar of Manipur University observed that creation of new district should not be based on ethnic line but on administrative conveniences.
He also suggested that MLR Act should be reviewed.
Spokesperson of Kuki Inpi Manipur Ch Azan Khongsai categorically blamed the Government for the present crisis over the Sadar hills district demand.
He also questioned the sincerity of the Chief Minister over his repeated assurances over the Sadar hills district demand.
Advocate Khaidem Mani observed that Sadar hills district demand should be granted because more number of districts mean more administrative conveniences. But to raise the district demand on community line or politics should be avoided.
AMUCO advisor Dr Dhanabir Laishram observed that every district demands should be granted. But there should be proper re-organisation of the existing district boundaries.
Kuki Mothers’ Association president Rose Mangsi clarified that the demand for granting full-fledged district status to Sadar hills is not one community but for all the different groups of people settling in different parts of Sadar hills.
The Sangai Express