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No encroachers at Mt Koubru, claims Thadou Inpi Sadar Hills

TFM FIle Photo: Devotees scaling Mt Koubru

The Thadou Inpi also wondered why this “unholy alliance with this anti-tribal and hill diatribe” and asked if there was a hidden agenda of dividing the Koubru range amongst KKL, FOH, and LNC with the blessings from GoM?

TFM Kangpokpi Representative

The Thadou Inpi Sadar Hills, Kangpokpi District claimed that there are no encroachers at Mount Koubru, and accused the Manipur Government of instigating CSOs like Kangleipak Kanba Lup (KKL), Federation of Haomee (FOH), and Liangmei Naga Council (LNC) in an attempt to dislodge the local inhabitants and deprive them of their “age-old source of livelihood”, which only exposed their “communal, parochial mindset and ill-begotten sinister design for land grabbing”.

Thadou Inpi Sadar Hills Kangpokpi general secretary Seikhojang Sitlhou stated that the recent salvo of allegations from different quarters about encroachers at Mt Koubru, the call for evictions of encroachers, etc. are but a much-ado-about nothing as there are no encroachers at Mt Koubru and the pride of Manipur stands tall with all its pristine glory, the scenic beauty, the trees, and the shrubs and the flora and fauna, side by side in harmony with the Thadou-Kukis tribes, through ages.

He also contended that no civil society organisations based in Kangpokpi have ever laid claim on Mt Koubru barring the LNC, while adding that the LNC’s claim of Liangmai Naga community ownership over the Koubru mountain range is not only “outrageous but ridiculously devoid of the facts of history”.

While considering that an insight into the geography and a little background note would be of great service to educate such organisations about the topography of the Koubru range, the demography of its surrounding foothill areas, Sitlhou claimed that Mt Koubru is located at the heart of Sadar Hills Sub-Division, the administrative classification of which dates back to the British era, which he claimed was dominated by the Thadou-Kuki tribes on all sides “from time immemorial”.

He continued that the Koubru range serves as a northern boundary of the Imphal valley, slowly rising from the Leimakhong hill range with its elevation peaks at the Saitu-Tujang area, and thereafter running down the valley joining the Laikot hill range (in Senapati area). The foothill areas are inhabited by tribal habitats mainly the Thadou-Kuki tribes dating back to the pre-British era, he claimed. Therefore, insinuations that the present settlers (Kukis) of the Koubru foothill valleys as encroachers is a misnomer, and the war cry for eviction is but unwarranted, unjustified, and a blatant disregard to humanity and civilization, he added.

The Thadou Inpi Sadar Hills Kangpokpi general secretary also contended that the declaration of the so-called Kanglatongbi-Kangpokpi Reserved Forest (KKRF) of 1968 was an arbitrary declaration trampling upon the right to livelihood of the tribal settlers in violation of the principles laid down in the Indian Constitution, the safeguards bestowed upon tribal hill areas of Manipur.

“This is evident from the then protest that was held by the Kukis and their Chiefs in 1955, spearheaded by leaders like (L) PC Misao of Kangpokpi with their slogan ‘KK Reserve Bandh Karro’ echoing far and wide across the hills of Manipur”, he asserted.

But, despite the controversies surrounding the Koubru range and surrounding areas with attempts to declare it as KKRF, Mt Koubru stood still with all its biodiversity, its flora and fauna, well guarded by the inhabitants, through decades, always serving as a tourist attraction, and pilgrimage point from both valley and hills, he contended.

He also said that the modern-day greed-driven poppy plantation by few misfits of the society, is but a universal ill which engulfed the entire hills of Manipur from the late 1990s and Mt Koubru is no exception while adding that such an act is condemnable by all, and all efforts have been made on a war footing, with the government reigning in all CSO’s, chiefs, and the public, to eradicate poppy plantation.

He further asserted that crying foul on Mt Koubru alone, with slogans of ‘Save Koubru’ with attempts to declare it as protected or heritage site is nothing but an evil design for land grabbing and conquest perpetrated by few vested interest groups of the valley and unfortunately backed by the majority “Meitei centric Government of Manipur”.

He further said that Koubru is a tourist attraction and pilgrimage point to valley Meiteis has been well acknowledged by the inhabitants surrounding Mt Koubru. Every pilgrim, picnickers or hikers have been welcomed with open arms through ages, and complaints are seldom lodged about the littering of the sacred mount with heaps of garbage, including empty beer or liquor cans or bottles, ganja etc, tobacco and tobacco products, leftover by the pilgrims or devotees and hikers, he added.

He also claimed that Koubru is equally sacred and revered by the Thadou-Kuki tribes surrounding the hills through ages pre-Christian and also in the Christian era before adding that in the era of animism, the Thadou-Kuki worshipped the unseen force whose abode is the Mt Koubru, with rituals through their high priest called Thempu and their folktale is replete with legends of an alliance formed between the unseen forces of Mt Koubru for war and military exploits.

With the onset of the Christian era, Mt Koubru quickly turns into “Taona Mol” (Prayer Mountain) for the Thadou-Kukis and presently the Kuki Nampi Taona (KNT) or the Kuki National Prayer fellowship is being held annually by the Thadou-Kukis at Mt Koubru, he added.

He said that claims and counter claims of ownership of Mt Koubru, sadly, is a recent development, initiated by the so-called Kangleipak Kanba Lup, soon backed by Anti-Kuki organisations Federation of Haomee and the like, with an exclusive claim of sacred ownership over Mt Koubru, with plans for temple building which only opened up the Pandora’s Box.

The Liangmei Naga Council seizing the opportunity and quickly jumping into the bandwagon is intriguing, their vested interest and ulterior motive when the Liangmai Nagas have no habitation anywhere near Mt Koubru, he said and added that the nearest Liangmai habitation so to speak is Makhan near Leimakhong on the far southern tip of the Koubru range and the Thonglang area on the far northern tip.

“One must stop at claiming of land beyond imagination”, asserted Sitlhou before adding that eviction based on Kanglatongbi-Kangpokpi Reserve Forest, by default, would mean the eviction of the entire Makhan village and Thonglang area of the Liangmai Nagas”, he added

He also said “you cannot evict someone you dislike and let stay someone you love and there cannot be double standards on the eviction”.

While KKRF in itself is still mired with controversy, there is no clear demarcation line of the so-called KKRF to date and therefore the question of evictions has not arrived yet, he contended and wondered what ails the organisations like KKL, FOH, LNC, and the like for the “racial attacks” on the Thadou-Kuki inhabitants, branding them as foreigners, and encroachers in their own land.

The Thadou Inpi also wondered why this “unholy alliance with this anti-tribal and hill diatribe” and asked if there was a hidden agenda of dividing the  Koubru range amongst KKL, FOH, and LNC with the blessings from GoM?

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