Imphal, March 26 2022: It is an undeniable historical and geographical fact that two-third of the total area of Dzuko Valley belong to Manipur, asserted Chief Minister N Biren.
Replying to a call attention motion raised by MLA K Ranjit in the State Assembly today regarding the indefinite bandh being imposed by the Southern Angami Public Organisation (SAPO) on Imphal-Dimapur Highway (NH-2), Biren said that the State Government has limited options to deal with the bandh sponsors as the bandh is imposed in neighbouring Nagaland.
The protest over Dzuko Valley is not an inter-State boundary dispute but it is an issue raised by one body called SAPO.
There is no contention from the Government of Nagaland that the area where the State Government opened a police outpost belongs to Nagaland, Biren said.
As such, it would be wrong to assume that there is boundary dispute between the two neighbouring States, he added.
Pointing out that the protest is being made by a neighbouring community from Nagaland, the Chief Minister stated that the State Government would first talk with the particular community in association with the Government of Nagaland.
Raising the call attention motion, K Ranjit pointed out that the SAPO’s indefinite bandh has severely affected all kinds of movement and transport services on Imphal-Dimapur Highway.
There are official records which say that two-third of the total area of Dzuko Valley belong to Manipur while the remaining one-third belongs to Nagaland but the Angami people of neighbouring Nagaland have been harassing the people of Manipur by claiming several parts of Dzuko Valley as their land, Ranjit said.
As Dzuko Valley could be accessed only through Nagaland in the past, there were instances of Angami people forcibly collecting signatures from people who were travelling to the valley so that they could claim the valley as their own, the Congress MLA said.
Following repeated demands from the people of Manipur to construct a road up to Dzuko Valley, the State Government has constructed a road and an IRB post has been opened at Kezoltsa area, he remarked.
SAPO together with the Southern Angami Youth Organisation (SAYO) issued a statement on March 18 demanding the Government of Manipur to remove the particular IRB post.
This was followed by a 72 hours bandh on Imphal-Dimapur Highway from March 21 to 23.The bandh halted a large number of passenger vehicles as well as goods carriers which were heading towards Manipur. Maintaining that there was no positive response from the Government of Manipur, SAPO and SAYO extended their bandh indefinitely with effect from March 23 midnight.
On account of the indefinite bandh, a large number of people including women and children who went for medical treatment have been stranded at Phesama.
As the stranded passengers have limited access to basic civic amenities, they are facing a very difficult situation, Ranjit said.
Meanwhile, the All Assam Youth Association (AAYA) has warned that a counter-blockade would be imposed if the indefinite highway bandh is not lifted.
Saying that these developments can ignite communal tension, Ranjit asked if the State Government has taken up any measures to resolve the problem and thwart communal tension.
He also asked if the State Government has initiated any step to bring in the stranded passengers.
N Biren who is also the leader of the House said that harassment of Manipuri people by certain elements when they went to Dzuko Valley was a common experience which went on for many years.
Even the people of Mao were subjected to harassment when they passed through the Southern Angami area, he said.
“In the wake of the huge inferno which raged across Dzuko Valley, some officials including myself conducted an aerial survey and we saw large tracts of forest areas cleared away due to rampant lumbering by Angami people”, Biren said.
Angami people sneaked 200 metres inside the territory of Manipur, fell trees illegally and carried away the tree trunks/timbers.
In order to check such illegal activities and ensure easy accessibility to Dzuko Valley from Manipur in case of any wildfire, a road of 15 Kms was constructed and a security outpost was opened 100 metres inside the territory of Manipur from the inter-State border line, the Chief Minister stated.
The State Government sent its representatives to the Nagaland Government to resolve the matter and thwart any boundary dispute between the two neighbouring States.
A letter was sent to the Chief Secretary, Government of Nagaland on March 23 which made it clear that the armed personnel and permanent structure are deployed/built within the territory of Manipur and the issue raised by Angami people should be resolved through dialogue.
A copy of the same letter was also sent to the Union Home Secretary.
Saying that the Government of Manipur is open to dialogue with the Angami people, Biren claimed that the Government has been working to secure safe passage of all stranded vehicles.
Some of the stranded vehicles have been already directed to take Imphal-Jiribam Highway.
Saying that the Government of Manipur and the Government of Nagaland have been communicating, Biren exuded confidence that an alternative way can be worked within the next couple of days.