Village Chief Decries Poppy Cultivation, Gunfight

Poppy cultivation site in Thonglang Akutpa village, Senapati district, Manipur. Image Credit: The Sangai Express

IMPHAL, Jan 8: In the guise of cultivating potatoes, villagers of Songjang have been found cultivating Poppies in over 3 hectares of land along a hill cliff be-longing to Thonglang Akutpa village under Senapati district, chief of Thonglang Akutpa village Zinkulakbo has disclosed.

He also appealed to all concerned to ensure that the January 5 incident of firing exchange between armed persons in combat dresses and security personnel is not repeated in the area in future.

Talking to media persons in this connection at Thonglang Akutpa village today, chief Zinkulakbo informed that exchange of firing between the armed persons in combat dresses and the personnel of 10 Dogra Regiment broke out at around 2 pm at a place known as Machapram, which is under the jurisdiction of Thonglang Akutpa village.

It was heard that two armed persons in combat dresses were hurt in the incident and they are undergoing treatment at Leimakhong Army camp, the village chief claimed.

Recalling the incident, he went on to say that there is a tradition in Thonglang Akutpa village where all the male members who are above 15 years of age go out on an inspection tour of the boundary of their village after every three years. January 5 this year happened to be inspection day. As usual, the male members were going for inspection when they came across, at first, three armed persons in combat dresses. Later on they came across many of them coming one after another. At Machapram area, the armed persons who were carrying weapons like AK-47, M-16, etc prevented the villagers from proceeding farther. The armed persons also resorted to blank firing to warn the villagers. At long last, a settlement was arrived at and the villagers were allowed to proceed. After going a little ahead, over 20 armed persons in combat dresses were seen. There a joint meeting was held along with the ex-chief of Songjang. Following some argument during the meeting, the armed persons resorted to blank firing. Hearing the gun shots, personnel of 10 Dogra Regiment rushed in and it led to exchange of heavy firing between the armed persons and the security personnel.

Zinkulakbo further informed that at the initiation of 14 Maha Regiment, an accord had been signed between  Thonglang Akutpa and Songjang village for maintaining good relation some years back which has deteriorated over the years.

The relation between the two neighboring villages used to be so good in the past that during British rule, Thonglang Akutpa even gave away its land to the villagers from Songjang to settle. But the relation has deteriorated in recent years.

In 2008, one Gogou, who became the new chief of Songjang village, demanded that villagers of Thonglang Akutpa pay taxes for 30/40 acres of land which they have been cultivating all these years.

In addition to this, villagers of Songjang started cultivating Poppies along a hill cliff located half a kilometer from IT Road since September 16, 2010. The hill cliff actually belongs to Thonglang Akutpa and it used to be grazing field for the cattles and a protected forest area. The villagers of Songjang have killed three cows belonging to Thonglang Akutpa. Despite the assurance, Songjang villagers have not paid the compensation for the three cows killed by them.

On December 3, 2010, the villagers of Thonglang Akutpa have gone to cultivate Potatoes. But they were beaten up by villagers from the neighboring settlement. Villagers of Songjang have also forcefully occupied over a plot of land belonging to Thonglang Akutpa and allowed settlement of seven Nepali families.

Demanding that cultivation of Poppy plants along the hill cliff belonging to Thonglang Akutpa should be stopped at once and all the Poppy plants should be destroyed within the current month, chief of Thonglang Akutpa village has also warned of launching agitation if the demand is not met.

Illegal cultivation of Poppy plants would be brought to the notice of the Government and a written complaint for destruction of the cultivated Poppy plants would be submitted very soon, he disclosed.

Spokesperson of Zeliangrong Students’ Union L Stephen Makuimai, who was also present during the press conference, said that land dispute between the two neighboring villages of Thonglang Akutpa and Songjang should be resolved amicably.

He also appealed to all concerned to ensure that the January 5 incident of firing exchange between the unidentified armed persons and security forces should not be repeated and the Poppy cultivation should be destroyed.

(Courtesy: The Sangai Express)

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