FROM OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT
IMPHAL Aug 30: With silent smouldering wrath, the Manipur Chief Minister Okram Ibobi has sent a stern message to the movers and shakers in Delhi. He pointedly said that it is not good to play politics over freedom fighters, culture and sports. One does not have to delve deep to realise that what the Congress Chief Minister said has a basis.
In view of the spectacular performances of the sportspersons in Manipur it was a good gesture of the Modi government that Rs 100 crore was sanctioned for the construction of the tiol university of sports somewhere in the state. However the gesture came rather like a bolt from the blue in the sense that the Manipur government which was caught uwares had no time even to acquire land for the construction.
While no land is available in the five hill districts, at the behest of some students’ organisations, a suitable plot of land was available at the overcrowded four valley districts.
Like all politicians, Ibobi had also tried to establish the university in Thoubal district from where he and his wife, Okram Landhoni, were elected. He had an eye to the two villages, Yaithibi Loukol and Yaithibi Khunnou. But from the very beginning, the people have been resisting the government move. Apart from the stand-off with the armed police, a case was pending in the law court regarding the annulment of the land. The villagers say that once they surrender their land they will have nothing to live on. Being farmers for generations they do not know any other means of earning. It is also on record that the state government had spurned offers for land free of charge from some other villagers on flimsy grounds. Taking advantage of the inordite delay in arranging a suitable plot some clandestine plans were made to have the university shifted to another NE state.
Manipur is far ahead of other NE states in the film industry. Appreciating it the union government had made plans to open a film institute. Despite the rightful claims by Manipur it was shifted to Aruchal Pradesh. A university of culture was also planned in the region and Manipur had staked its claim. However it was decided that it would be located in Meghalaya. Ibobi feels justified to say that some tiol leaders are playing politics in these matters. To cap it all, seeds of suspicion and mistrust had been sown by singing a framework accord with the NSCN(IM). The situation was aggravated by the way the centre is playing the card close to the chest. The tiol leaders are not doing anything to cope with the trust deficit.