Sadar hills: A necessity

Published on January 22, 2005

By Donn Morgan Kipgen

January 23, 2005: For the past three decades the promise of granting Sadar Hills, the status of a full-fledged district by the State Government still remains very much a promise. All these years the people of Sadar Hills have been given a raw deal by the State administration, thanks to the inactivity of Kuki political leaders. That there exists no collective effort on the part of the Kuki legislators leaves no one in doubt as to why the Sadar Hills issue has been sidelined and shot down repeatedly in the House. Sadar Hills could and should have been made a full-fledged district 20 years back had it not been for a socio-political implication.

Moreover, it might sound ridiculous but it is true that the proposal for a creation of a full-fledged Kangpokpi district was derailed by a handful of Kuki village-politicians in order to protect the interest of Sadar Hills. But that was a folly of history. Now a Sadar Hills District Demand Committee (SHDDC) has been formed to force the issue. The Chief Minister of Manipur has made it clear that the creation of a new hill district is not on the sick list of his ‘patch and stitch’ Ministry.

On the other hand, the SHDDC has also made it crystal clear that public peace and tranquility in the hill areas would not be on the gift list if its demands are not considered promptly; the other demand being the restoration of branch offices in Kangpokpi. The recent mass rally organized by SHDDC for the creation of full-fledged Sadar Hills District held at Thomas Ground, Kangpokpi, which was attended by more than 10,000 people, including TD Minister Ngamthang Haokip, Ex-Minister C. Doungel, Kpi MLA Thangminlen Kipgen and other top social and religious leaders etc. showed how much the people cherished for a full-fledged district. In all fairness, the people of Sadar Hills deserve a better administration.

As a matter of fact, Sadar Hills was actually slated officially to become a new full-fledged district along with Imphal-East during the time Nipamacha Government, but for reason not made public, it never happened; only Imphal East was inaugurated alone. The Government inexplicably put the lid on this issue since then as if they have never heard of it. But if there is one issue which will not go away so easily, it is this demand for Sadar Hills district. It would be a monkey on the back of every State Government.

Critically speaking, the demand for creation of a full-fledged Sadar Hills District is perfectly justifiable, not for political option but out of sheer necessity. It is also an obligation. It would be a great help to the State administration than to anybody else. Normally, the Constitution allows the legislature to create a separate district or a State on the ground of common language or for proper and efficient administration. Sadar Hills fits both the criteria. Period. Even after 57 years of independence and 31 years of statehood, the Kuki nation still has not a single full-fledged district as mandated despite being one of the three most dominant ethnic entities (after Meiteis and Nagas) in Manipur.

The southern district of Churachandpur is evenly occupied by the CHIKIMS, Zombies being the majority clan. The Meiteis have four districts in the valley, the Nagas have four hill districts whereas the Kukis have none inspite of having a vast inhabited areas and the population stipulated for at least three full-fledged hill districts, vis-à-vis other district in Manipur. The Kukis are also under represented in the State Assembly. Two more Assembly constituencies are needed to bring ‘unattached’ Kuki people into the mainstream. Kangpokpi, the heart of Sadar Hills, is a General AC, an open seat.

From administrative point of view, there need to be more than one autonomous district councils in Sadar Hills. Hence, a full-fledged Sadar Hills District is an absolute necessity for efficient and responsible administration, whether it being a Kuki or Naga dominated area is not an issue here, therefore irrelevant. The creation of Jharkhand and Chattisgarh States are not the result of insurgency or integrity movement. Many parts of Sadar Hills are strewn all over the State. New Keithelmanbi, parts of Nambol, west of Langol etc. are under Kangpokpi Police Station and like scores of others are not directly connected with district headquarters. One classic example of bits and pieces administration is that of Boungbal Khollen, nestling between Thoubal and Ukhrul districts on the eastern bank of Thoubal irrigation dam.

Officially under Saikul police station, it has no direct link with the sub-division or district Hqrs. Worse still the Senapati district administration does not even know where Boungbal Khollen is situated. There is no way Senapati could efficiently administer these ‘out-of-reach’ areas. And if anything serious happens in these areas, it would be either Imphal West or Thoubal or Bishenpur district police, or even Ukhrul police, to reach the scene. At one time there was no police personnel at Saikul police station and the sub-divisional office was run from Imphal-East district, with the ‘local administration’ looked after by armed Kuki militants. It is way out of line for other district authorities to look after parts of Sadar Hills.

The simple answer to such ridiculous scenario is to set up a full-fledged district in order to connect all parts of Sadar Hills under one single administration. The Government of Manipur knows roughly how many rats or rodents are there in Tamenglong district and how many migratory birds are there in Loktak area but it has no knowledge of how many citizens are there in Sadar Hills and its adjoining areas. The State administration needed an armed expeditionary force to conduct the census, and to find out how many unrecorded villages and hamlets are there in Sadar Hills and other parts of Senapati district.

The decisive geo-political aspect of a Kuki dominated new district is hard to ignore. With the GoI-NSCN (IM) talks burning irritatingly hot, the Sadar Hills issue has become more relevant to the Government. It should be noted that a better half of Kuki dominated Sadar Hills areas have been claimed by the UNC and NSCN (IM) as parts of Greater/ Southern Nagaland as a part of the deal. So, the Chief Minister O Ibobi Singh would or could not displease the Center with any careless (Kukis) appeasement political maneuver disregarding the indignant displeasure. He even dumped the topmost Kuki political figure C. Doungel who had personally attended the mass rally organized by SHDDC recently at Kangpokpi, from his Cabinet in a most, unceremoniously manner.

The Government of India and Manipur have never repaid the yeoman service contributed by the Kukis, especially the Thadous. The Kukis have always been dutifully loyal to the cause of Manipur’s security and sovereignty since time immemorial. In all military campaigns outside the Imphal valley, the vanguard of the Royal Manipur Army without any instance of failure defended the hills. Actually, most of the decisive expeditions against the Nagas, especially that of Khonoma, were spearheaded by the Thadou-Kukis as a striking force in Royal Manipur military formation.

The Kuki warriors unbelievably kept the mighty British imperial army at bay for nearly 2 years in 1917-18. They also joined the INA in full force. However, nothing worth-while has ever done for the Kukis. And one thing is for sure; whatever (local areas) is given to the Kukis will always remain a part and parcel of Manipur irrespective of what the Centre does or does not. It is about the right time to create a new full-fledged Sadar Hills district as a gesture of trust and loyalty.

1 Comment

  1. Shazii Veo

    I certainly felt that your point is valid.

    You also said, ” It should be noted that a better half of Kuki dominated Sadar Hills areas have been claimed by the UNC and NSCN (IM) as parts of Greater/ Southern Nagaland as a part of the deal. ” Can you elaborate which part are you talking about?