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ALLAFUM observes Loktak arson anniversary

Source: Chronicle News Service


Imphal, November 15 2021: All Loktak Lake Fishermen's Union, Manipur (ALLAFUM) observed the 10th Loktak Arson Day anniversary at Champu Khangpok floating village on Monday with ALLAFUM executive member Salam Sanatomba in.

the chair.

The observance marks the day, November 15 in 2011 when state agencies trooped into the village and torched around 700 shelter huts locally known as 'Phumshangs' as part of a failed eviction drive in Loktak lake.

Opening the event, union secretary Oinam Rajen recalled the treacherous incident that took place in November in 2011 and later through 2012 and 2013 where Loktak Development Authority officials and state police personnel unleashed arson upon the fisher community, tearing down and burning their shelter huts built on the floating biomass Phumdi.

All personal belongings of the fishers including fishing nets, utensils, clothes, solar lamps, mattresses and bedstead and even domestic cats and fowls were lost in the arson.

The controversial Manipur Loktak Lake (Protection) Act of 2006 must be repealed to deliver justice to the marginalised fishing community, Rajen said, adding that Manipur government had sought taking up 'developmental' projects in the lake areas that had the potential of displacing the fishing community and affecting ecosystem of the lake.

Speaking on the occasion, Indigenous Perspective executive director Ramananda Wangkheirakpam observed that the perpetrators of the arson had little thought of sparing the marginalised section of the society and sought to completely drive them out from the lake.

This was a gross violation of the fundamental rights ofthe fishers, he said.

Loktak dweller Oinam Ekashini Devi recalled how the arson took place ten years back and how the hapless villagers were left in dire straits by the authority.

Villagers lost all their personal belongings and were totally devastated.

Whatever projects that are taken up in the lake area have no meaning for the fishing community and the state has forsaken the poor villagers, she said.

DESAM secretary general Leishangthem Lamyanba said that the problems faced by the fishing community must reverberate louder across the.

state in seeking justice to their sufferings caused by the state.

In his address, environmentalist Salam Rajesh said that the local fishing community living within Loktak lake need to raise their voice at national and international forums to redress their rights to life and resource use.

The entire water spread of the lake is the territory of life for the fishing community and they have the right to exert their fundamental rights as is being popularised by the United Nations as part of the global effort in ecosystem restoration of significant natural landscapes, he added.

The event wrapped up in the evening with a dugout canoe rally from Langolsabi locality of Champu Khangpok floating village along the Yangoi Maril up to Liklai Karong where the Nambul River meets with the Nambol River.

The fishers raised slogans hailing the deity Loktak Lairembi who protects the environment of the lake through eons.

A two-minute silence was also observed in memory of late Haobijam Kula, founder president of the Union.

The event will continue till November 23 .