Opinion: What Transplanting A Tree Amid Gunfight Tells About Manipur


June 11, 2023 can be remembered as essentially the most bizarre day for village Dust, which lies within the foothills between Manipur’s Kangpokpi, Ukhrul and Imphal East districts. It is going to stay a exceptional day within the reminiscence of a small staff comprising a filmmaker, a manufacturer, farmers, a military Captain and a few squaddies, who effectively transplanted a 5.5-feet-tall, fruit-bearing hog plum tree, in the neighborhood referred to as “heining“, amid the intermittent ethnic clashes in Manipur since Might 3.

Dust is a 1.25 hectare-large idea village close to Manipur’s “residing museum” at Sekta, 23 km from state capital Imphal. Tree and bamboo plantations are prioritised actions right here since 2020. Where serves as a landscaping workout to run an environmentally pleasant village and in addition serves as a neighborhood interactive centre, a circle of relatives outside process spot, an area for specialized residential coaching programmes and a meditation centre. These kind of are necessarily for self-exploration and working out nature.

But even so digging a water-harvesting pond the dimensions of part a soccer box in April this yr, the focal point has to this point been on planting fruit-bearing and indigenous bushes and native bamboo species. With the exception of an extended record of prized ownership – olive, guava, gooseberry, mango, jackfruit, wild apple, papaya, pear, superstar fruit and Arjun tree (Arjuna Myrobalan) – village Dust is now house to the 5.5-feet-tall hog plum tree.

Similar to picturesque Manipur, the appeal of village Dust is the encircling hill levels providing outside journey actions like trekking and tenting. Some other appeal is the remnant of the 2nd Global Conflict atop Chanung hill, simply above the village. Trenches and bunkers constructed through the Eastern Military at the ridges of Chanung all the way through their siege of Imphal nonetheless exist, kind of within the form and dimension they had been in-built 1944. The allied forces used to name those fortifications “zits”. It’s recorded within the struggle historical past that the Eastern siege of Imphal failed because the allied forces saved provide traces intact with air drops. This technique helped the Allies win the Imphal and Kohima battles and made the Eastern give up.

However why all this historical past now, and what’s so bizarre a couple of hog plum tree?


The turbulent occasions that Manipur has been residing in since Might 3 is bizarre. The results and the after-effects of the ‘peace rally’ referred to as through the All Tribal Scholars’ Union of Manipur (ATSUM) are exceptional. The provocation for the ethnic violence that drew the fault line between the Kukis and the Meiteis is fantastic. The character of the communal violence noticed within the hills and the valley is horrendous. The best way social media is manipulated to push narratives is distasteful. The best way maximum within the nationwide media and famous person talk-show hosts purchasing the narratives with none fact-checking is much more indigestible. Therefore, the extraordinariness of the ethnic violence.

The unfathomable violence of burning down properties, looting houses and focused on other people and villages have transform the very foundation for a sweeping narrative that separation is the one answer. This name got here from Churachandpur and Kangpokpi, the 2 hill districts ruled through the Chin-Kuki-Zo tribe. They’ve held directly to the narrative that their neighborhood is beneath assault and they have got been chased clear of the valley, simply because the Meiteis who had been residing within the hill districts of Churachandpur, Kangpokpi and Tengnoupal had been evacuated and feature taken safe haven within the valley.

The Chin-Kuki-Zo tribes need a separate political management from the valley, or particularly, the Meiteis. There may be little scope for a reconciliation.

Considerably, this narrative emerged only some days after violence broke out. For a state that has noticed a lot ethnic violence – the Kuki-Naga massacre within the early Nineteen Nineties, the Kuki-Paite conflict within the overdue Nineteen Nineties, and the Meitei-Muslim conflict – Manipur hasn’t ever had a story about separate management or autonomy. Up to now, reconciliation labored.

Moderately naturally, for a multi-ethnic civilization residing in cohesion for a very long time, with written information relationship again to 2000 years since 33 AD, meddling with its territorial and political integrity gave the impression non-negotiable.


If chronologically noticed, hassle began in Churachandpur with the burning of a woodland division workplace ahead of the ‘tribal cohesion peace rally’ started, by which insurgents in camouflage combat get dressed armed with AK-56 rifles had been obviously noticed taking part. Therefore, reviews of assaults on houses and stores of unarmed Meiteis in Bishnupur district bordering Churachandpur and within the world border the city of Moreh began coming. SOS calls through the trapped Meiteis went viral on social media, and then even the suspension of web products and services from Might 3 night time may no longer save you the retaliatory assaults through the Meiteis within the valley. The Chin-Kuki-Zo individuals who made Imphal their house needed to flee for protection to Churachandpur and Kangpokpi as that they had transform the goals of the Meitei rage.

After the preliminary violence and the deployment of over 40,000 central forces, the darkish smoke step by step subsided in Imphal valley, Churachandpur, Kangpokpi and Tengnoupal districts. Then again, sporadic gunfights persevered within the foothills the place the valley ends and the hills get started, particularly in spaces bordering Kuki-Chin-Zo ruled spaces.

Visuals of gunfights between other people of the 2 communities armed with guns looted from the Manipur Police armoury, licenced rifles, country-made guns and the ones imported from Myanmar got here out from Sugnu and Serou between Kakching within the valley and Chandel within the hills, Phayeng-Senjam Chirang between Kangpokpi and Imphal West, and Khamenlok, which borders Kangpokpi and Imphal East.

Now, returning to the tale of the hog plum tree, village Dust is 5 km clear of the 2 spaces of Chanung and Khamenlok. Instead of taking the inter-village roads, each spaces will also be reached through climbing up the Tombakhong hill vary to achieve Chanung after which trek additional up south to achieve Khamenlok.

Those two spaces are at risk of assaults and counterattacks between the warring factions. Villagers listed below are forced to stay watch with their licenced weapons, and in some circumstances are supported through well-armed volunteers on either side. There’s a palpating sense of perpetual risk and the primary to release the offensive naturally will get the easier of the opposite.


Days ahead of the ethnic violence started, a residential college constructed to world requirements was once inaugurated at Chanung. This faculty was once the objective of arson through well-armed Kukis, who climbed down the hill levels from Khamenlok. Thankfully, the steered reaction of the Central Reserve Police Pressure (CRPF) foiled the assault in Might-end.

That incident uncovered the vulnerability of Chanung, Loushangkhong and Sekta spaces to Kuki assaults. Villagers in Chanung and Loushangkhong took turns to stay watch and constructed makeshift bunkers. Weary of retaining a relentless eye on conceivable assaults, the villagers are mentioned to have mentioned securing the entire house in Chanung and Khamenlok to forestall them from getting used as launchpads through armed Kukis to strike at Meitei villages in Imphal East.

Sensing the risky scenario, the Indian Military additionally arrange makeshift outposts on best of Langthabi hill, immediately taking a look down at village Dust. The military’s presence within the bunkers uphill made the location extra anxious because the villagers alleged the central forces failed to forestall the assaults.

On this environment, the builders of village Dust needed to transplant the wholesome hog plum tree, talented to them through an area elder. The tree had grown larger for the spot it was once planted on. Usually, the builders would have taken the tree at the dust street and transplanted it. However the scenario didn’t permit it this time.

The builders then contacted the Commanding Officer (CO) of the world and informed him in their plan to transplant the hog plum tree. The CO with politeness gave a affected person listening to and informed the staff to attend. Fifteen mins later, a military Captain referred to as and requested concerning the plan once more. Then he drove down in an SUV and met the staff at a bridge that attached the 2 villages. After a temporary dialog, the military Captain got here with the staff.


This was once how the hog plum tree was once transplanted at village Dust on June 11, with two Indian Military workforce taking part. This was once an bizarre second – other people transplanting a tree in the midst of an ethnic conflict. Within the subsequent 3 days, sadly, the spaces between village Dust and Khamenlok noticed the most important single-day fatalities and most burning down of houses since violence began on Might 3.

On June 12, the Kuki villages of Khopibung, Khamenlok, Chullouphai and Aigejang had been destroyed through armed Meitei village volunteers. A few of them made up our minds to spend the night time at Aigejang church. Within the counterattack, well-armed Kuki forces reportedly fired rocket-propelled grenades on the church, killing the 9 Meiteis, leaving 4 lacking and 9 others injured. The following day, Meitei volunteers went directly to burn down 9 extra Kuki villages in Khamenlok. On June 28, reviews of landmines round Khamenlok got here, and then the military and state forces went on a project to defuse the mines. The mix forces, then again, detected a lot of well-armed Kuki insurgents wearing black. Such was once the dimensions of violence noticed at Khamenlok.

The countermeasures of the blended forces have stepped up. Those measures have succeeded in convalescing looted weapons, ammunition and bombs. Altogether, 1,100 weapons, 13,700 bullets and 250 bombs had been recovered to this point. The blended forces additionally destroyed quite a lot of bunkers utilized by each communities to release assaults.

Extremely, the hog plum tree has grown effectively, sprouting stems or even leaves from its new, serene dwelling house, surrounded through the mesmerizing hill levels that experience noticed the worst ever massacre in Manipur, the jewelled land.

Sunzu Bachaspatimayum is an impartial journalist and an award-winning filmmaker based totally in Manipur.

Disclaimer: Those are the private critiques of the creator

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