Monday, June 17, 2024

EXCLUSIVE: Displaced Leingangching Catholics resettled

Date:


EKHON|UKHRUL: In a historic moment, Catholic families who were displaced from Leingangching village of Kamjong district on May 2010 on account of issue relating to religious freedom has finally resettled in the village through the coordination and administration of Rangnamei Rang Peter, Deputy Commissioner of Kamjong district and Rang David, SDO, Kamjong district in the presence of priests, All Manipur Catholic Union (AMCU), Tangkhul Catholic Council (TCC) and its unit, and Leingangching (S. Laho) and Sikibung Villagers.

Fourteen years after five families of Leingangching (S. Laho) under Sikibung Village were forcefully chased out from the village by the Village authority on account of their conversion to Catholic church which went against their “one village one denomination” rule, they are reinstated to the village with a liberty to practice faith/religion of their choice.


On January 16, 2018, and May 8, 2019, the verdicts on the legal case under WP(C) 651 of 2017 and Contempt Case (C) No 141 of 2018, between Sikibung village and All Manipur Catholic Union (AMCU) in the High Court of Manipur was pronounced as, “..there shall not be any denominational activity dividing the existing religion i.e. Baptist Christianity, is unconstitutional and hence illegal and void, being violative of articles 25 & 26 of the Constitution of India” and that “… the petitioners are entitled to enter and settle in Leingangching village.” However, it was only today, May 18, 2024, that the parties came into agreement to settle the issue “in the spirit of of “Forgive and Forget”, mutual respect and trust, and in Christian spirit”.

Rangnamei Rang Peter, Kamjong DC went beyond his administerial duty to bring amicable solution. He took an extra effort by convening series of meetings with both Leingangching and Sikibung village and in constant touch with AMCU. As the issue tracked on, he knew that things cannot go on for long and had to bring amicable solution at the earliest. “I had to take the initiative of talking to them in a friendly and local manner so that we come to the point of understanding and somehow after a series of meeting and convincing each other and also in compliance with the honorable court order, we came to this point of understanding”, the Deputy Commissioner said.

Today is a historic day said, Dr. C Matthew Kamei, president of AMCU, the apex lay organization of Imphal Archdiocese. He expressed his joy that the village has finally honored the court’s verdict adding that such a day has come after a long suffering of 14 years of displacement of the faithful.

Expressing his satisfaction at the settlement program, Thanreiwung Shokwungnao, Chairman Leingangching (S. Laho) called on the Catholic converts to forgive and forget and move on to live as one villager and one community. It is his desire that they live together in unity and harmony going forward. He further said that they should not consider themself as minority and as the village leader he promised to be fair and treated everyone equally.

Meanwhile, Ningmachan Ramrak, one of the displaced persons expressed his joy and relieve saying, “I feel as if I am flying in my dreams. I am at total peace. I feel as if a big burden on my shoulder has been lifted and I feel extremely light.” He shared how hard it was to live and experience life without a home and acknowledged priests and Catholic community for their love and continued support. To live as human beings, we should be kind towards each other, he added.

In a four-point covenant of peace and resettlement that was signed between Sikibung village and AMCU on Saturday, it agreed that;

1.The displaced families are allowed to resettle in Leingangching (S. Laho) under the territorial jurisdiction of Sikibung Village, as full-fledged citizens with all the rights, privileges and duties as any other citizens of the village.
2.That the families are at liberty to practice faith/religion of their choice and the village shall have no objection whatsoever to their freedom of conscience/faith.
3. That the displaced and now resettled families like any other inhabitants of the village, are to abide by the condition that:
a. The concerned villagers shall work with the Headman of Sikibung Village and Chairman of Leingangching (S. Laho) to promote peaceful co-
existence.
b. That all developmental activities shall be carried out in consultation
with the Headman of Sikibung Village and Chairman of Leingangching
(S. Laho).
c. That in matters relating to revenue, legitimate customs and practices of the village, the concerned villagers shall abide by the authority of the
Headman of Sikibung Village.
d. That in the event of breach of these conditions by way of unauthorized alienation of village land, activities that will disturb the peaceful co-existence of the village, they shall be dealt with as per the Tangkhul customary practices.
4. That in the process of reconstruction of houses and resettlement:
a. Sikibung Village and Leingangching (S. Laho) may recommend the
names of these families to the government for Relief & Rehabilitation.
b. Sikibung Village, Leingangching (S. Laho) and individuals may extend
help to the families to compensate for the houses and properties that
were destroyed at least partially.

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