In connection with the announcement on closure of all entry points of Mt Koubru, the Committee on Protection and Preservation of Mt Koubru (COPPK) has issue a clarification, saying that it did not mention restrictions on pilgrimages and not a single pilgrim has been denied entry till today.
A joint meeting was held on Wednesday at Saitu with the police department and the protesting locals in the presence of two ADGP, SP Kangpokpi, addl. SP(Ops) and addl. SP(LO) Kangpokpi, DFO on the part of Government representatives and SAHILCA, COPPK and CVOs, Kangpokpi leaders.
According to the committee on Protection and Preservation of Mt Koubru, the meeting finally agreed that both parties shall remain silent on the matter till talks are held with the chief minister, which means the security forces, and other department officials concerned shall not attempt to climb Mt Koubru and the protesting locals as well shall cease their agitation.
It was also resolved that talks with the chief minister shall be initiated at the earliest on the part of the police department.
However, the committee on Protection and Preservation of Mt. Koubru wondered as to how the official objections submitted to the department concerned did not reach the table of chief minister even if it is a sensitive issue.
It may be recalled that the state Art and Culture department on November 26, 2020 issued an order declaring sacred sites at Mt Koubru and Mt Thangjing as protected sites under Sub-Section (1) of Section 4 of the Manipur Ancient and Historical Monuments and Archeological Sites and Remains Act, 1976. The order also notified that any interested person may file objection to the declaration within two months (60 days) from the date of issue of notification.
The committee on Protection and Preservation of Mt. Koubru reportedly raised its objection in form of protest while the Tujang Area Chiefs' Association and Saitu Chief Tongmang Haokip had also reportedly raised strong objections against the declaration with relevant documents which reportedly did not reach the chief minister table.
Before the meeting was held, confrontations ensued on the second day as well between security forces and the agitating locals including chiefs of the said areas under the aegis of Committee on Protection and Preservation of Mt Koubru (COPPK) mandated by SAHILCA, Kuki Inpi and civil bodies of Kangpokpi over Mt Koubru impasse.
However, no untoward incidents have been reported till the filing of this report.
A concrete bridge along a PMGSY road leading to Mt Koubru was demolished this Wednesday morning. It was suspected to be done by the protesting locals. It was also reported that the bridge was already half damaged by a flood last year, rendering only light vehicles possible to pass through after a light renovation by the locals.
COPPK further clarified that the restriction was imposed only to the survey team and any agency or department accompanying the survey team for security purposes or whatsoever.
It also stated that the committee had earlier stated that religious status quo must be maintained by all as Mt Koubru is for all lords, not just Lord Koubru but it will not in any manner, allow or agree on any terms and conditions to erect any structures based on Church, Temple or Mosque at Mt Koubru and similarly any structure with hidden agenda shall not be permitted.
The committee had also clearly manifested that Mt Koubru should not become a 'bone of contention and contestation' irrespective of caste, creed, language and faith for peace and harmony but the government has abruptly made it a bone of contention and contestation.
It further clarified that the bridge that was reportedly damaged had already been badly demolished by the flood last year and it became very difficult even for four wheeler vehicles to navigate through it even if the local people renovated it in their capacity.
Further, it stated that the damage of the bridge might be out of public anger owing to the forceful attitude of the state government in its attempt to bulldoze the public sentiments and emotion, it stated, adding that it was not an intention to disturb or restrict pilgrimages for religious purposes.