Imphal, November 17: On the issue of the influx of illegal immigrants in Manipur, the Eastern Liangmai Naga Chief/Chairman Association (ELNCCA) said today that if the government fails to execute the impediment issue now, the state will become another Tripura soon “where the indigenous people are the minorities in their own state”.
In a statement, the ELNCCA alleged that, over the years, unfortunately, in Kangpokpi district the uncontrolled influx of illegal immigrants mainly from Myanmar (Burma), Nepal and Bangladesh, being, facilitated for vote bank politics and electoral gain in the last 70 years in the State of Manipur, has caused rampant settlement in Kangpokpi district.
Over a period of time, according to the ELNCCA, these illegal immigrants have gained a demographic edge over the indigenous communities. The Kuki population in 1951 was hardly a few thousands but today, their population has exponentially increased to 2.80 lakhs, the ELNCCA further said. Taking advantage of their numerical strength and demographic dominance, these illegal immigrants are indulging in rampant destruction of forest and encroachment of land and creating land disputes in Liangmai areas, it added. The exponential growth of villages and the facts and circumstances described above shows that there is a clear case of ‘politics of demographic engineering’ so as to tilt the balance of power against the genuine indigenous minorities of the Nagas, especially the Liangmai community. The ELNCCA also said that consistent attempts are being made to reduce them to voiceless and invisible minorities in their own lands through systematic and structural manipulation, snatching away their lands, economic and political rights from indigenous locals.
In 1972, according to the eastern Liangmai chief body, there were only 27 Kuki villages or hamlets with very few families. “In fact, given the nomadic nature of the Kukis, the colonial administration gave official orders that permission could not be accorded for the Kukis to set up new villages with less than 20 households, failures of which led to fines and imposition of tax at higher rates,” it further said. Their settlement increased to 84 villages in 2001 and by 2020, the total number of Kuki villages in Kangpokpi had increased to 94, it added. “They were allegedly backed by the state politicians and the Kuki undergrounds,” the ELNCCA further added. The Liangmai chief body also said that at present there are two Suspension of Operation (SOO) designated camps of the Kuki undergrounds established by the government to check the growth of the Kuki militants. “It has instead resulted in breeding ground for anti-social activities, recruitment and training, free-uncontrolled extortion, free entry, shelter and exit passes for the illegal immigrants from across the porous borders, generation of revenues through poppy cultivation, logging business from the virgin forests and jungle raj,” the ELNCCA added.
The ELNCCA then said that Manipur, as a whole, is facing a major problem of migration. The association further said that “pothole began with the sharing of a 398 km border with Myanmar and easy border crossing in the state. It added, “The Kuki community who themselves are the outlanders are alleged to have brought more people to increase their strength in the social and political landscape”. One recent instance is the bringing in of thousands of illegal immigrants after the Myanmar military coup in February 2021, the ELNCCA also said. “They are letting in the illegal immigrants (IIM) especially in the Kangpokpi district without informing the competent authority, causing tension amongst the indigenous communities in Kangpokpi district,” it further added.
The eastern Liangmai chief body demanded the present government to act on this looming issue. The chief association further said that illegal immigrants should be identified who are staying in the Kangpokpi district by violating the Inner Line Permit. It further said that technology advancements should be made useful to resolve this unfavorable increase of illegal Immigrants ( IIM).
The ELNCCA stated that encroaching land is one of the biggest challenges, adding land disputes and tensions. “Despite knowing who are the real owners of the land, the government fails to execute the impediment issue. Stringent actions should be taken against land grabbing, trespassing and land encroachment. It is time the government wakes up to the situation and the problem will have to be solved and the government concerned has to take that responsibility,” it added.
The ELNCCA also said that the “outlanders and immigrants” cannot be placed on equal footings with the indigenous communities of Manipur. The ELNCCA further stated that the people should cooperate with the government by not giving shelter to the illegal immigrants in any form of hospitality.
The eastern Liangmai chief body then said, “If the BJP government fails to act now, our state will become another Tripura where the indigenous people are the minorities in their own state”.