Imphal, March 15 2022: Even though Manipuris have been residing along the borders of Meghalaya and Bangladesh since 1940s, they are still unable to settle down peacefully in the area.
Presently, there are six Manipuri villages in the area, namely Ichamati, Koilaghat, Bairong/Mawbang, Kurikhal, Nayabasti and Bholaganj villages.
The villages are located in East Khasi Hills district at a distance of 100km from Meghalaya’s capital Shillong, near the border with Bangladesh.
A total of 160 Manipuris are residing in the said villages.
The main occupation of the villages is making flattened rice (champak), masonry and driving.
A family earns around Rs 2500 per month making flattened rice.
As part of United Committee Manipur’s (UCM) “Eegi Khongul Liba” (Tracing the Blood) which commenced from March 12, the Joint team comprising Committee president Joychandra Konthoujam, general secretary Ngangom Deba and others along with media, visited the villages on Tuesday and learned of the life experiences of the villagers.
The team found many villagers bearing Meitei/Meetei surnames such as Naorem, Yensenbam, Moirangthem, Soraisam, Khongbantabam, Lukram, Nongmaithem, Ngangbam, Meisnam, Khuirem, Leimapokpam, Thokchom and Laishram among others.
One of the villagers named Naorem Nabakumar alias Nobo (70) s/o Kwaklei and Keinahan of Bairong/Mawbang village conveyed that he has been residing in the village for over 50 years.
He was originally from Kakching Phousupat and worked as a tailor in Shillong, before settling in the village.
He is still working as a tailor, while also doing whatever jobs he could find on the side.
Nabakumar informed that he like others does not own the land he is presently residing at and pays a yearly rent of Rs 1000 to the land pwner.
He neither can buy a land nor undertake any work in his name, unless it is done in the name of a Meghalaya native.
The Manipuri villagers were allowed to vote only 3 years ago, and received Ration card, Aadhaar card and PAN card recently.
It is difficult to acquire requisite documents and even more difficult to obtain a trade license.
Regarding Umang Lai Haraoba, the festival is celebrated only at Koilaghat.
Fortunately, the villagers help one another as much as possible although it is like a poor person helping another poor person.
Meanwhile, another villager named Yensenbam Santokumar Singh said that he has been residing in Bairong/Mawbang village since 1946 .
As they do not own the land, there have been times when they were asked to leave but they begged to stay.
If they were to be forcefully driven away, they have no place to go and stay.
As they are like refugees, they take up whatever jobs they could find, thereby foregoing the essence of living a life with dignity.
Thus, he urged the government of Manipur to help the villages lived their life peacefully.
Speaking on the sidelines, UCM president Joychandra commented on the living condition of the Manipuris who have been residing along the borders of Meghalaya and Bangladesh since 1946, without a property in their name.
Even if the villages had a trade license, it is cancelled and prevented from getting a new one.
Thus, he urged the government of Manipur to help the Manipuris settled in the six villages and help them live a fulfilling life.
Joychandra then said that UCM will always stand for the welfare of the Manipuris scattered outside the state.
If the students of the villages want to study in Manipur, the Committee will extend all necessary assistance, he assured.