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Do Not Rename Places Illegally, Manipur Governor Warns Groups

Do Not Rename Places Illegally, Manipur Governor Warns Groups

Manipur’s Governor has warned against illegal renaming of places

Imphal/New Delhi:

Manipur’s Governor has warned civil society groups and individuals against renaming places in communications and maps amid the ethnic violence in the state that began on May 3.

The Governor in an order to the local authorities in the state said it has seen incidents of people renaming or trying to rename districts and even institutions, which may escalate tensions among the hill-majority Kuki tribes and the valley-majority Meiteis.

The order signed by Chief Secretary Vineet Joshi said the authorities must ensure this illegal practice is stopped immediately, or else strong action would be taken. Any name not in the land revenue records is illegal.

“It has come to the notice of the state government from reliable sources that many civil society organisations, institutions, establishments and persons are deliberately renaming or trying to rename… places, which are objectionable and likely to create controversy and conflict between communities,” Mr Joshi said in the order.

He said it is important to ensure this practice stops “more particularly in the context of the ongoing law and order crisis”.

Many areas in Manipur show up with two names on Google Maps, people familiar with the matter said. The renaming of places – legally or otherwise – has been a source of tension between communities for a long time.

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Thangjing hill, for example, was renamed by the former Congress government as Thangting, a name recognised by the Kuki tribe who live in the hills. The Meiteis in Moirang district near the hill range have objected to it.

The Kuki tribes also call their hill district Churachandpur “Lamka”. Last week, some residents of Churachandpur complained on social media that many parcels with the destination mentioned as “Lamka” were stuck at the post office in the state capital Imphal.

India Post said in its official handle on X, formerly Twitter, that there is no pin code for such a place called “Lamka”.

“We are sorry to inform you that your delivery has been delayed due to the prevailing situation in Manipur. The destination pin code for Lamka does not exist or not available.
Inconvenience caused is sincerely regretted,” India Post said in response to a now-deleted tweet asking for parcel tracking details.

The Kuki tribes have been demanding a separate administration following the outbreak of ethnic clashes with the Meiteis. The Indigenous Tribal Leaders Forum (ITLF) has asked Churachandpur residents not to use “Lamka” until their demand for separate administration is met.

Many contested areas in Manipur in the hills and the valley show up with two names on Google Maps. Kuki settlements have the suffix “Veng”, which means colony. The Meiteis have alleged large-scale editing on Wikipedia and Google Maps to add the word “Veng” at many places. The Kukis, however, maintain these areas have belonged to them traditionally and would rename them formally if they get separate administration.

Government sources told NDTV mass renaming of places on Wikipedia and Google Maps, which leads to tensions on the ground, will be considered criminal acts. “The cyber crime unit is tracking them. We have collected data and have evidence of mischievous acts of renaming places by some people in Manipur and outside the state,” a police officer with the cyber crime unit told NDTV, requesting anonymity.

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