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Mao and Keithelmanbi

IFP Editorial: It is not just about Mao farmers. The state also needs to consider the development of various Keithelmanbi markets where hill women come to market their produce daily.

ByIFP Bureau

Updated 2 Apr 2022, 2:01 pm

Representational Image (PHOTO: IFP)
Representational Image (PHOTO: IFP)

 

Politics apart, when the southern Angamis prevented the Mao traders from selling their produce in Nagaland in 2015 who did they turn to? SAPO and its youth wing SAYO had been constantly harassing Mao people/leaders on the National Highway, serving quit notice, damaging vehicles, intimidating innocent civilians, vandalising shops and physically assaulting Mao people and their leaders since long. The bone of contention is the disputed Dzuko valley, the whole of which the Southern Angamis had been claiming as their own.

The Southern Angamis have tried everything from harassing Manipuri trekkers even blaming them for the wildfires in the valley and SAPO is imposing an indefinite blockade of Manipur bound vehicles on the demand that the Manipur government should withdraw its armed personnel and remove structures from Kezoltsa area.

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The Manipur government had set up an IRB post at Kezoltsa area within the jurisdiction of state for precautionary measures to avoid unwanted incidents for the local tourists of Manipur. Chief Minister N Biren Singh had asserted that 3/4 of the entire area of Dzuko valley belongs to Manipur and the remaining to Nagaland and the state government will not succumb to the pressures of a civil organisation based in Nagaland state.

Well, that is another matter. While some vested interests would talk constantly of a separate polity for Nagas, including the Maos in pursuit of political aspirations, the economic linkages between the valley and hills of Manipur had been tried and tested throughout history.

Whatever be the aspirations of a common future, the Nagas in Nagaland state had never considered the Nagas of Manipur as their kindred spirit. There has been a history against Manipuri Nagas in Kohima and Dimapur. There was a time when the Tangkhuls of Manipur were driven out of Kohima. The animosity of Southern Angamis against Mao-Maram people had always been there.

The question now is, why should Mao seek to sell its produce in Nagaland while there is a high demand in Imphal for vegetable produce including potato.  Time and again, Imphal has proven to be a safe market for the vegetable produce in Imphal.

Ever since the 2015 violence against Mao farmers in Nagaland, valley based civil society had been facilitating sale of their produce in Imphal and even weekly markets in various places of Imphal. Five years down the line and Mao Market has been opened at different locations in Imphal and elsewhere on a weekly basis since then.

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The tribal market opened at New Lambulane is no doubt a good idea but questions still remain if it has been able to meet the demands of a larger clientele. At the moment, a number of women from the hills come down to sell their produce by the roadside at Lamlong Keithel with no permanent structure. Same was the case with the small market opened at Khoyathong where womenfolk from Mao came and sold their produce atop the concrete put up on Naga river.

Now, the Chief Minister N Biren Singh had announced that Mao Market will be opened at North AOC in Imphal from Thursday onwards, and assured the women of Mao that they will always have markets to sell their farm produce. Biren also said in another Twitter post that two buses will be provided to ferry the goods daily. He also flagged off the Mao bound MST bus on Wednesday.

It is not just about Mao farmers. The state also needs to consider the development of various Keithelmanbi markets where hill women come to market their produce daily and a comprehensive plan needs to be drawn up for cold storage and godown facilities in the Keithelmanbi markets located at fringe areas.

 

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First published:30 Mar 2022, 7:34 pm

Tags:

blockadenational highwaydzuko valleyMao marketmao farmers

IFP Bureau

IFP Bureau

IMPHAL, Manipur

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