In the last few days, the situation in M-pen village at Miao circle in Changlang district of Aruanachal Pradesh has been tense ahead of the hearing scheduled at Itanagar Permanent Bench of the Guwahati High Court on 21 November 2012. The Court will hear the M-pen land dispute case between the Chakma and Singpho communities. Earlier last month, the hearing was postponed, but the Court directed the district administration not take any coercive measures against the petitioners (Chakmas). In other words, this implies that "status quo" has to be maintained.
|A group of Singphos arrived the disputed village in a truck|
In the meanwhile, however, the Singpho communities in a view to take possession of the disputed land constructed houses in and around the houses of the Chakmas at the disputed area in the last few days. There was no report of any clashes between the two groups unlike in 2010 but the Singpho people in groups visited the M-pen village with trucks armed with daos (swords) and constructed houses.
|House construction underway|
Reportedly, the district and local administrator remained mute spectators as the houses were being constructed in the disputed area. No police/security personnel were reportedly provided despite request by the Chakmas. This shows the utter failure of the district and local administration to honour the Court’s order.
|Houses built nearby a Chakma house|
The Chakmas and Singpho communities are at loggerhead over the M-pen land for quite some time. In 2010, clashes broke out between the two communities when the Singpho community tried to forcibly take possession of the land. Many were left injured from both sides. Both sides claim that the land belongs to them. The Singphos claimed that the land measuring about 60 acres belongs to one Ms Thuing Singpho as she had a Land Possession Certificate (LPC) issued by the District administration. However, the Chakmas dispute this. They claim that they have been living in the area since long and they are being forced to leave the area. They even dispute the LPC issued to her.
|Construction of another house near a Chakma house in progress|
Expressing his view in the M-pen land dispute case, David Chakma in his blog (davidchakma.blogspot.in) alleged that it is easy for those who have the backing of political leadership and the bureaucracy to get Land Possession Certificates (LPCs) anytime.
As per information available in the website of the Changlang District, (http://changlang.nic.in/download.html) one can apply for LPC by giving the description of the land for which possession certificate is applied along with supporting documents which includes certificate from the Forest Department, certificate from village council/village headman/ Vice President of Anchal Samity and sketch map of the land in triplicate (not to scale) duly countersigned by the village authority.
The above information suggests that the view expressed by David Chakma cannot be ruled out considering that Ms Thuing Singpho on whose name the LPC was issued by the district administration is close to the political leadership of the state. She is among the richest persons in Miao area and the extent of influence she has over the local administration is immense.
Some alleged that there was never any Singpho village in and around the disputed area, therefore question the certificate issued by the village headman/council. This is a valid point raised considering that only the village headman of a particular village who has the knowledge of the land can issue such certificate. Therefore, if the claim of non-existence of any Singpho village in the disputed area is true than someone from other area cannot claim LPC in a different area. It is also alleged that the houses have been built in urgency recently even without waiting for the Court's verdict is to show that the Singphos have been living there since long.
Further, it is alleged that Ms Thuing Singpho has donated the disputed land to a Singpho Society. The question is can she donate the land in the event of the case being "subjudiced."
At this juncture it is not known who is speaking is truth. Whatever be the status of the land, the case is subjudice and the Court only will determine the status of the land in question. At the same time it is unfortunate that the district administration failed to honour the Court’s order.