Locals stage protest against proposed acquisition of agricultural land

The protesters included several student unions of Manipur.

(Representational Image-IFP)

A large number of protesters staged a sit-in demonstration against the Manipur government's plan to acquire agricultural land to shift the Central Security Forces stationed at Koirengei Airfield, at Awang Sekmai on Friday.

The state government had proposed a plan to shift the Central Security Force personnel to 3- Keingam under Loyaklakpa Chingkhong Loukon.

The protesters included volunteers of the All Manipur Students Union, Apunba Imgai Maheirol Singpanglup, Democratic Students Alliance of Manipur, Kangleipak Students Association, Manipur Students Federation and Students Union of Kangleipak; villagers of Awang Sekmai, Kanto, Kanto Sabal, Kanto Achouba, Keingam, Leimakhong Chingmang, Kanto Premnagar, Keingam Dwarika, Keingam Machangram, Khunkhu Naga village and Khunkhu Kuki village took part in the protest.

Speaking on the sidelines of the protest, Loumi Sinmi Apunba Lup(LOUSAL) president Mutum Churamani said that the present government can be considered as a ‘totalitarian government’ if it goes ahead with the plan to shift the Central Security Personnel Station despite the protest from the locals.

The state government is inviting a mass protest from the public if it decides to go ahead with shifting of the station or to expand it, thereby affecting the land of the farmers, he said.

Pointing out that ending poverty and hunger everywhere by 2030 is a part of the United Nations agenda for sustainable development, Churamani contended such a plan of the state government to use the fields for other purposes will not help in making the state self-sufficient and will not reduce hunger.

Even though Manipur Conservation of Paddy Land and Wetland Act 2014 had been enacted, it has been observed that construction of buildings and other structures have been on the rise from the year 2017 to 2020, he stated.

A local of Awang Sekmai, Usham Ningol Amubi said, “I own a paddy field at Keingam and it has been a source of livelihood for my family. However, after knowing that the government has a plan to shift Central Security Forces stationed at Koirengei Airfield to 33- Keingam, I do not know what my future holds.”

Another local, Angom Rajesh said that people of Keingam will never accept the government plan to shift the Central Security Personnel stationed at Koirengei to Keingam. He also claimed that even in the past, locals have donated land to the state government and they have not received compensation till date.

The locals also submitted a memorandum to the chief minister N Biren Singh through Sekmai SDC. The memorandum stated the paramilitary forces if moved to Keingam would affect a large number of farmers and villagers who depend on the agricultural land at 33-Keingam.

The memorandum further reminded the chief minister that he had earlier assured the people of the area that the land would not be purchased and used against their will when they met him on November 17, 2019. They appealed to the chief minister to understand their plight and scrap the plan to shift the paramilitary forces which will affect farmers and people in the area.

First Published:Oct. 24, 2020, 11:46 p.m.

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