T S Haokip
The Manipur Government’s decision to assist victims of #ChassadBurning with Rs. 3 Lakhs per household would surely be appreciated by all, had the amount so sanctioned is meant to build toilets and bathrooms only. Sadly, the amount is the total assistance to be provided to each household- including costs for building house, toilet, bathroom and buying necessary items like clothes, furniture and utensils.
The cost of building a house is flexibly calculated depending on the beneficiaries. It is interesting that Government spent tens of Lakhs for the construction of its offices but deemed it sufficient for Rs 3 Lakhs to meet the expenditures for building a house for a family with an average 5 persons. We are not aware of the rationale and method of calculation as to how the amount was arrived at, but it is without doubt insufficient to meet even half of the cost for constructing a simple liveable house. While the task of restoring Chahsat will require sincere efforts of different measures from the Government, apart from building houses, it has failed to meet even basic requirements of rehabilitation; providing a house.
It is only pertinent to ask if the Government has made any arrangements; as to where, what and how the homeless villagers sleep, eat and live all these while. The expenditure per household before their house is built, which will take 5 to 6 months, will comfortably be above Rs. 1 lakh. Now the Government’s decision of releasing 50% of Rs. 3 Lakhs will only be enough for ‘day to day’ expenses until the house is built. Then, who will build the houses for the villagers of Chahsat? Since the Manipur Government, apart from the Kamjong and Sampui Tangkhul villagers, is responsible for the complete wipe out of Chahsat, inspite of the presence of a Police station, whose personnel were just mute spectators if not supporters of the arson, it is the Government’s duty to rebuild Chahsat.
Rebuilding Chahsat/Chassad will require sincere initiatives to reconcile the two communities; Tangkhuls and Kukis. This process will require unconditional apologies from the erring communities for the burning of Chahsat village. Blaming the proverbial third person- ‘unknown person’, as done by the Government in its Press statement will not resolve the issue. It has in fact emboldened the perpetrators even to the extent of justifying the arson.
While the absence of ‘condemnation to the incident and show of solidarity to the homeless’ from valley based organizations speaks the general attitude of the valley towards incident in the Hills even in times of losses, many people even from other states feel and share the pain of the villagers by way of voluntary contributions of foods, clothes and medicines. Social responsibility among communities is voluntary and depends on one’s principle and concern for humanity as a whole and as such the same is not binding to any one for that matter. But the Government on the other hand should not excuse itself from its prime duties; of working for the people.
The Govt. should ensure that the villagers have a roof over their heads at the earliest and must acknowledge with actions that restoration of Chahsat village should not only be about building houses. Restoring the faith and trust of the people on the Government and ensuring their safety and protection, which was not accomplished with the presence of both State and Central SFs and ensuring the award of befitting and exemplary punishment to perpetrators of the crime should be of paramount importance. The Government should uphold its profound responsibility as representative of all the people of Manipur irrespective of the community one belongs to, through its actions.