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The 40th Koren Youth Conference 2006 ‘” Its Roles And Significance

The youth and students of Koren fondly called Koireng are all set to gather at Sadu Koireng village in Saikul Sub-division from the 30th January, 2006 to the 3rd February, 2006 for their 40th Conference cum Sports Meet to be graced by Shri C. Doungel, Circle MLA and Shri L. Lala Singh, MLA, Khundrakpam as chief guest and president respectively. The highlights of the five day extravaganza include athletics, dances, debate competition, etc. Apart from it, they will hold discussion on issues confronting them and various agenda for their security and advancement.

The Koren Youth Organization, Manipur has come of age now with Shri T Sekshon Koireng, an M.Sc. in Mathematics from NEHU and Shri Z Chungsek Koireng, a Delhi educated computer wizard as president and vice-president respectively. The budding right pair will surely put in their resources to rise to the occasion to fulfill the aspiration of the Koireng people to have their own men in the state’s administration and also to guide the youth and students on the right path without being agitation and provocation in their approach.

After years of suppression and exploitation, the time has come for the Koireng people and its kindred tribes to realize that they have been deprived of all their shares. They belong to the unrepresented communities who have no voice in the state, and an idea is struck that the small Koireng tribe can be clubbed with Aimol, Kharam and Purum to float a united Unrepresented People’s Organization to exert their political and legitimate rights. Thikhup of Lt. Col. John Shakespeare can also be enticed to join it. No force should deter the plan once it is activated; rather it will get massive support from outside. The substance of the story is that the major chunk of funds allocated for the weaker section of the society in Manipur had been pocketed by the privileged few or drained out to the outfits. It is not difficult to count how many welfare and developmental works have been executed for the ethnic tribal minorities. They have undergone tremendous hardships in the past one decade due to insurgency in the hills. To face the lackadaisical attitude of the government of Manipur towards their miseries, a united front is a must now which can be viewed as a mini Real-re-armament, a major step forward to regrouping of kindred tribes in Manipur.

In spite of their smallness in population, the Koireng people under the aegis of the Koren Youth Organization, Manipur had been able to convince different civil societies and intelligentsia of Manipur that the Koireng tribe was one of the earliest settlers of Manipur beyond any doubt; the soil of it also belongs to them as much as it does to others on the basis of facts accounted in the chronicles of Manipur and Moirang. The Koirengs were one of the earliest of known tribes of Moirang principality. There is a strong tradition among them that God Thangjing fell in love with a Koireng woman.

‘To be concise enough, it would not be an exaggeration to say that the song often sung as Ibudhou Thangjing Koren lai or Koireng Lai refers to the Koirengs only, and none else. The Koirengs were driven out of Moirang by its king, probably of a constant threat posed to the principality by them (During the role of Ewang Fang Fang Panglenhanba or years afterwards?). A hundred years later, one Sumsokhup established a village at Kumbi Peak and it eventually grew to be prosperous: in the midst of plenty of paddy, he celebrated a festival there and the song sung in that festival is still preserved on among his clan’s men.

The marvelous achievement of the organization was its ability to celebrate the silver jubilee of it in the month of April, 1990 at Utonglok village with the then Governor of Manipur, late Shri Chintamani Panigrahi as the chief guest. The 40th Conference of the organization reminds the writer of this essay of the flamboyant governor who left an enduring memory in the minds of every member of the Koireng community. In a bid to re-open the glorious chapter of the Koireng people, some of the philanthropic acts can be recalled. Hiding behind three low lying hills, the picturesque Utonglok Koireng village is situated at the most fertile foot-hills of varied landscape in the north-east of Sagolmang. Against all the odds, the Governor went to the village and left his foot-prints there. Alas! The season was not favorable for his motorcade to travel on the deplorable Imphal Pukhao road. Over and above it, the downpour the previous night had devastated a large portion of the road: land-slips and depression occurred at many places at the foot-hills. Extensive repairs of the road were needed.

The original plan of the visit was to land at Utonglok by a helicopter but the anti-bomb squad advised him to review the plan as it involved felling of tall trees growing in the village and construction of a makeshift helipad for the aircraft to land there. Not to disappoint the Koireng people, he traveled in his Gypsy on the rugged road stretching from Imphal to the village under a heavy armed convoy. Since the vehicle in which he was traveling plunged into a heap of wet mud on the steep road at Dolaithabi barrage, he abandoned it to walk on foot for about a kilometer holding a long pole in his right hand to negotiate with the zigzag and muddy road leading to the village. Crossing a rickety bamboo bridge constructed over a rivulet on foot, the dignitary attired in sparkling white suit took the pains to reach the venue of the silver jubilee, all for the sake of the soft-corner he had for the marginal and backward Koireng community.

He was somewhat upset about the environment of the dense forest around the village, even though his security guards and intelligence officers had the better grip of the local situation. It was obvious he found the deep wilderness thrilling and inviting too. By a stroke of luck, the weather had cleared up just as the cheering delegates, young boys and girls, old men and women lined up the path to greet him. As soon as he arrived, he unveiled a huge stone of the silver jubilee to commemorate the 25th year of the existence of the organization. Once in the jubilee hall, his face began beaming and feeling distinctively at ease: the office bearers with him in their midst was excited and nervous when the D.C. and the E.E. of Senapati unaccountably felt restless and bored.

The village chief who was clad in a traditional dress with a crest made of fur which was inserted in his turban and holding an enveloped memorandum prayed for the installation of a television signal trans-mission tower at Utonglok. His Excellency too made no other commitment to the villagers than reciprocating the chief’s plea. Some time later, the assurance had turned flat as words reached the village that the tower could be erected or installed at the sub-divisional head-quarters only. What was experienced is that ‘it is the chief minister that matters: not the Governor in a parliamentary democracy’. But the representatives of the organization had sought for an audience with the executive head of the state many times in the past when they were always driven back at the gate. Only those people who lobby in the CM’s bungalow through the help of political heavyweights can meet him. Unfortunately, the welcome accorded to the Governor was without a red-carpet. The villagers could have borrowed rolls of red-carpet from the neighboring Manipuri villagers who were always ready to help the Koireng people in adversity. Barring a lousy tribal cultural dance, no colorful event worth the name was shown, only a poor show.

This time, the ex-bureaucrat turned politician often known for his straight forwardness and openness who had been a minister several times in the past is going to Sadu Koireng village for the second time with his fellow MLA from the valley area to wake up the villagers. Some economic package in the form of cash loan or developmental work is expected to be announced during the conference. Encircled by a horde of Nepali and Manipuri villages with a deep wood rising behind it in the east, Sadu Koireng having seventy houses is a secluded village situated right on the bank of Iril River and is visible from Eckou Bazar on Imphal-Saikul Road.

The wild river which is the main cause of communication bottle-neck cripples the day to day affairs of the villagers whenever it rains. Considering the tribulation of the villagers, construction of a Bailey bridge over the river is long overdue. If the bridge is really constructed over it, the same will immensely benefit a large number of tribal populations of that hilly part of Manipur.

Utonglok is only a stone’s throw from Sadu Koireng and the two Iril valley Koireng villages can be interlinked by a modest motorable road which is equally important for the elevation of their economy. The combination of the two villages can serve as the vote bank in the next election which is round the corner. Primarily, they may not be the deciding factor in the election battle to be fought in the near future but some highly educated persons of the two villages who are research scholars, master degree holders, practicing lawyers and theologians can create a strong wave in favor of the candidate of their choice within Saikul A/C. This is the latest trend, and every candidate shall have to count even a single vote. The most surprising moment may come when the battle will be decided by a solitary ballot-paper.

The 40th conference is supposed to be significant because of the fact that Manipur is aflame will be realized and it will make the youth and students aware of the present turmoil and uncontrollable law and order situation in the state. Another realization will be of grasping situations with maturity in the right perspective as students are the most sensible intellectual force in the society. Rough handling of situation will cost the community greatly. Caution for every step is essential without taking side in the present mayhem. The present generation is the age of restlessness and everyone is not contented: it is difficult to find a happy soul. The Koireng youth and students also can play a great role in the mainstream other than confining their activities only in the ethnic well-being. Lastly, indulgence in festive extravaganza in such gathering being ignorant of what is happening in the state is also another serious matter of concern. While regaling with football mania or rock-concert, parents’ economy with limited resources for subsistence cannot be overlooked at all. Let the visit of the two MLAs to Sadu Koireng village rekindle the hope of prosperity and development of it and fulfill some of the long cherished dreams of the villagers whose plight have been uncared for years together. Let the conference be a resounding success to herald peaceful co-existence of all communities of Manipur.

*The article is written by R Yangsorang

* The article was written in the beginning of 2006

* It is republished so as to shed light on the different communities residing in Manipur

(Courtesy: The Sangai Express)

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