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Tribal organisation in Manipur withdraws proposed 12-hour shutdown that had threatened to PM Modi’s visit

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(G.N.S) Dt. 16
Guwahati
The bandh had been called to protest against the State government’s failure to settle a controversy over land acquisition for the National Sports University in Haraothel that straddles two districts – Imphal West and Kangpokpi.
A tribal organisation in Manipur has withdrawn its proposed 12-hour shutdown that had threatened to mar Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the State on Friday to lay the foundation stone of India’s first sports university.
Assurances galore
“The boycott was withdrawn after Ministers Letpao Haokip (Youth Affairs and Sports) and Nemcha Kipgen assured us of fulfilling the commitments regarding the university at Haraothel,” Thangminlen Kipgen, president of the district unit of Kuki Students’ Organisation, said.
The State government had in December 2016 allotted 325.60 acres of land to the director of Youth Affairs and Sports department for the university. The land was shown as belonging to the non-tribal Koutruk village in Imphal West district, even though 137.62 acres of the tribal Haraothel village in adjoining Kangpokpi village was included.
Haraothel, now called L. Tangnuam village, is off National Highway 2 that connects state capital Imphal to Numaligarh in Assam via Nagaland capital Kohima.
“We are not against the sports university. We had called the shutdown along NH2 to let the government know it cannot play with the sentiments of the tribal people,” Mr. Kipgen said.
Haraothel, about 20 km from Imphal, is inhabited by Vaiphei tribal people belonging to the Kuki group. The village has about 350 people in 43 houses.
Haotinmang Vaiphei, chief of Harothel, said people in the village have co-existed peacefully with non-tribal people of adjoining Koutruk, Senjam Chirang and Senjam Khunou villages. The road to Haraothel, in Kangpokpi district, is through these villages.
The other three villages are in Imphal West district.
“Trouble started after the site for the sports university was selected,” he told.
The simmering tension led to a clash between the villagers of Senjam Khunou-Senjam Chirang and Haraothel on December 16 last year. At least seven people were injured in the clash while a strategic wooden bridge was burnt, cutting off Haraothel for many days.
Police attributed the violence to related to pig farming and fishing, Mr. Kipgen of KSO said a bid to snatch the land of Haraothel people for National Sports University was to blame.

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