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By Joel L. Hmar

The long pending issue of official host language for the Churachandpur DD & AIR station has recently resurfaced in a very grimy form. True or not, rumour has it that Paite will be finally declared as link-language for the new media station. What is surprising here is that how on earth is the criteria that adjudged Paite dialect being to be thought fit for official host language? We know that Hmar is much more advanced and well-refined among languages of Churachandpur district. It deserves the status of being used as official host language in this first-of-its-kind station in the district, even though the Hmars have not claimed for it so far. All communities in Churachandpur district can understand Hmar, at least in communication if not in writing.

The unfair claim of Paites to try to enforce their dialect as host language in the new media station is absurd and arrogant. Paites have been thorn-in-the-sole for everybody in Churachandpur district. Paite attitude towards minor tribes such as Simte, Gangte, Vaiphei and Zo during the ethnic war between them and the Kukis/Thado was too horrific and self-centred. They wanted to drag the smaller tribes such as Simte, Gangte, Vaiphei and Zo into the factional Paite-Kuki/Thado ethnic fighting, trying to force them into Paite-Zomi realm and involve them in fighting against Kuki/Thado. It was a pity that Gangte tribe had to register themselves as Mizo for fear of being exterminated. Simte tribe could do nothing other than scattering themselves as refugees in neighbouring state of Mizoram and other places within Manipur state.

If the government of Manipur is bent to decide using Paite as link language/official host language at DD & AIR station in Churachandpur on the basis of higher number of population, it will be  worth underscoring the reason for increase of Paite population within the district itself. Mostly during the last two-three decades, there have been large influx of Paite refugees from Myanmar (erstwhile Burma) into Manipur and Mizoram states. Paite or better known as Chin in Myanmar are barely surviving economically and politically in their country. To escape the hardship in Myanmar, Myanmarese-Paites have been illegally migrating into the porous border areas of neighbouring Manipur and Mizoram states. Most of these Paite refugees unlawfully settled down in Churachandpur district, especially in Churachandpur town, thereby largely contributing to increase of Paite population in the area. There is no reason why Paites could have more children and their women more fruitful than the Hmars.

It is the sole responsibility, and for the interest, of the government of Manipur to check the continuous inflow of Paite refugees from Myamnar into Manipur. In the long run, this phenomenon will result in demographic imbalance within the southern district of Manipur, leading to Paites' claim of separate homeland for being majority in the district; producing higher electoral numbers, thereby increasing number of Paite MLAs who can dictate more terms in their favour and so on. It is the right time for the government of Manipur to wake up and act without delay. Who knows Paite MLS are already dictating terms in their favour.

It is learnt from passport agents in Churachandpur that many Paite refugees from Myanmar apply Indian passport from Churachandpur town so that they can escape to other countries where they can work illegally. For them it is easier to get Indian passport and escape to foreign lands than through Myanmar. Who knows Paite-Myanmar refugees in Mizoram may follow the same tactic. Passport office in Guwahati seems to be unaware of the fact that they should take special care while issuing passports to persons bearing Paite names. It is beyond doubt that many Paite refugees of Myanmar origin might have now worked in government offices in Manipur and other parts in India.

One may recall the attempts made by Paites to change the name of the town Churachandpur to flimsy, unreliabel name as Lamka during the 1980s and after. Siamsinpawlpi (Paite sutdents' body) was the main organisation spearheading such insane movement. Despite these attempts by Paites, Hmars have never taken part in their foul play against the Meeteis in Manipur. Appeasement policy of government of Manipur towards Paites will be like feeding a hungry python that is ready to swallow its master when fully-grown.

Coming back to link-language, even English can be made useful at Churchandpur DD & AIR station. After all English is the medium of teaching, writing and communication in schools and colleges, and well received by all. Who knows introduction of English as host official language may bring progress to the whole communities in the district, nevertheless  distributing programme slots to every community without any discrimation over the other in the new media station. Otherwise, the decision of the government of Manipur to introduce Paite dialect as host official language/link language at DD & AIR station in Churachandpur town will be a political sucide!

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