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March 5, 2024

Manipur Enacts Law to Prevent Renaming of Places, Violators Could Face 3 Years in Jail

In response to ongoing ethnic tensions and attempts to alter official place names, the Manipur assembly has passed legislation aimed at curbing the renaming of places, with violators facing penalties of up to three years in prison and fines of up to ₹2 lakhs. The Manipur Name of Places Bill, 2024, underscores the state government’s commitment to safeguarding its history, cultural heritage, and ancestral legacy amid rising instances of identity-based conflicts.

Chief Minister N Biren Singh emphasized the government’s resolve to preserve Manipur’s historical identity and prevent unauthorized renaming of places. “We will not tolerate renaming and misusing names of places without consent, and those guilty of the offense will face strict legal repercussions,” Singh stated, reflecting the gravity of the situation.

The legislation, passed unanimously by the assembly, addresses concerns over the unauthorized renaming of places, which not only disrupts administrative processes but also undermines social harmony. Instances of unauthorized renaming have posed administrative challenges and stirred communal tensions, necessitating legislative intervention to restore order and prevent further discord.

Under the provisions of the bill, a seven-member committee appointed by the state government will have exclusive authority to recommend renaming or altering place names. This centralized approach aims to streamline the process and prevent arbitrary changes that could exacerbate existing tensions.

The backdrop of the legislation is the ongoing ethnic strife between the dominant Meitei community and the tribal Kuki-Zo communities, which has resulted in violence and displacement. The clashes have claimed numerous lives and displaced thousands, underscoring the urgent need for measures to promote reconciliation and prevent further escalation.

The conflict has also witnessed instances of communities asserting their identity through the renaming of places. Notable examples include Churachandpur, a Kuki-majority district, being renamed as Lamka by some Kuki groups, and Paite Veng in Imphal being rebranded as Kwakeithel Ningthemkol. These changes reflect deep-seated identity sentiments but have also contributed to communal tensions and administrative challenges.

By enacting the Manipur Name of Places Bill, the state government aims to address the root causes of identity-based conflicts and promote inclusive development and social cohesion. The legislation represents a proactive step towards preserving Manipur’s diverse cultural heritage and fostering a harmonious society where all communities can coexist peacefully.

Rajan Shukla

Rajan Shukla

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