The Manipur government initiates action on renaming the protected site: Republic World

Thangjing Ching in Manipur | Image:X/ @NBirenSingh

Imphal: The Manipur government has filed a police complaint against a group of Kuki insurgents for renaming a sacred hill of the valley-dominant Meitei community and has initiated legal action against the group for had claimed the area as her ‘camp’. This has emerged after the Kuki National Front – Military Council, or KNF(MC), which also calls itself the “Kuki Army”, reportedly installed a signboard at the foot of Thangjing ching (hill) with the name “Thangting Camp”. of the “Kuki Army”.

While filing the complaint in the case, the state government stated that the action of the Kuki armed group could degenerate into a fresh round of violence amid the ethnic tensions between the mountain-dominant Kuki tribes and the Meiteis.

The Meitei community in the lake town of Moirang had gone on a pilgrimage to Thangjing ching, the home of the deity Ibudhou Thangjing. They believe the Thangjing Ching site is at least 2,000 years old. The tribes call this ridge Thangting, which falls under Churachandpur district.

The renaming is contrary to the Manipur Names of Places Act, 2024: Manipur CM

Later, Manipur Chief Minister N. Biren Singh addressed X and said the state government has filed a police complaint over the incident as the area is a protected area. He said the renaming violates the Manipur Names of Places Act, 2024, and hence, action has been initiated in the matter.

In his post, the Chief Minister wrote, “The state government has taken immediate steps to book any group or individuals involved in changing existing names of places in the state. Under the Manipur Names of Places Act, 2024, a case has also been registered for renaming a part of the Thangjing ridge as ‘Thangting.’

Notably, the Thangjing Ching Mountains are located between Moirang city and Churachandpur district, 40 km apart. In Churachandpur and nearby areas, the ethnic violence started on May 3, 2023. The people of Moirang, where the largest freshwater lake Loktak is located in the northeast, also regard the deity Ibudhou Thangjing as the guardian of the area.

The Manipur Cabinet in October 2022 took the decision to include four hectares of Ibudhou Thangjing, two hectares of Koubru Laipham and four hectares of Lai Pukhri under Section 4 of the Manipur Ancient and Historical Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 1976, which protects these places against attacks.

Manipur government sources said the Kuki insurgent group’s blatant act of putting up a signboard claiming the hill as the ‘camp’ of the ‘Kuki Army’ would be construed as an act of hostility. They said the central government will be informed about the escalation by the armed group and the possible course of action.

This was not the first time Thangjing ching saw a controversy. In February, a cross was installed atop the hill, an act seen as destabilizing in the violence-hit state. By October 2023, photos taken with high-powered zoom lenses and drone footage had confirmed the installation of another cross on the hill. Moirang MLA Thongam Shanti had told NDTV that the cross was located at the same spot where the shrine of Ibudhou Thangjing stood.