MLA DD Thaisii alleged that out of 188 regularised, not a single church in Imphal East and Imphal West were included except for 3 churches in Churachanpur. He said most of these regularised structures were within public spaces and public parks whereas the churches in question are not creating any direct obstacles to the public.
He further said that while the regularised list includes several places with areas of 3 acres and more, the accumulated area of 13 churches in Lamphel, 8 churches in tribal colony, 14 churches in Langol housing complex and 6 churches in Game village is less than five acres.
He explained the historicity of these churches in the valley as an inevitable part of the Christian tribe’s migration to the state capital and the relevance of the church as part of the integral Christian way of life. He urged the government to act according to the Supreme Court order of 2009 and subsequent order of 2019 which directs towards amicable settlement by relocating or regularising and not through eviction. He alleged that none of the regularised structures were even relocated.
He said there are 44 unauthorised churches in the state by the Supreme Court’s definition and added that the listed churches are between 15 to 45 years old structures and were built prior to the Supreme Court’s directive in 2009, and no other new unauthorised church was build after this order.
Following the Supreme Court order of 2009 and the subsequent order of 2019, the church leadership have been running from pillar to post in desperation and submitting memorandums to the governor, chief minister, tribal ministers and chief secretary among others, and yet the eviction order was notified for 9 churches, he remarked.
He said when 188 structures were regularised in the state, it gave a mix feeling to the Christians since the churches were left untouched in the valley. However, the eviction orders have made the people desperate.
He expressed concern that Church bodies are becoming desperate following the eviction order and this has led to the coming together of tribal population as 90 percent of the state tribes are Christians. He informed the house that All Manipur Churches Organisation and All Tribals’ Student Union had also recently organised a press conference in this regard.
He appealed to the chief minister that since the government is trying to emotionally integrate and bridge the hill and valley divide, an amicable solution should be brought at the earliest.
He pleaded that since 188 structures are already regularised without even relocating, even the 44 churches deserved to be regularised in the interest of the state.
The chief minister in response said, our state is a complex state comprising of 37 communities. The eviction order was notified following the Supreme Court’s directives in order to avoid fixed structures in government quarters. He said the government plans to build more vertical employees’ quarters to address the shortage of accommodation with loan from HUDCO. He assured the house that along with the designated committee chaired by the chief secretary, he would explore possible alternatives to resolve this case.
(Courtesy The Frontier Manipur)