Union Minister Rajkumar Ranjan Singh has asked Culture Minister G Kishan Reddy to explore the possibility of setting up a record centre of the National Archives for northeast states.
Mr Singh, the Minister of State for External Affairs and one of the two MPs from Manipur, in a letter to the Culture Minister said researchers in the northeast often face problems in collecting primary sources from the states’ archives, and they have to eventually travel to Delhi to access the National Archives.
“This involves abundant cost, ample time required and enormous effort, which many of the scholars can ill afford,” Mr Singh said in the letter to Mr Reddy, who is also the Minister of Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER).
“It is high time and genuinely felt need that a record centre of the National Archives of India for the northeast states be ordered to be established at a convenient site in Imphal, Manipur. There was an initiative to set up such a record centre in the northeast in the year 2000, but the demand has remained unfulfilled,” said Mr Singh, whose house in Manipur’s capital Imphal was set on fire and vandalised by a mob on June 15 amid the Meitei-Kuki ethnic clashes.
Mr Singh raised concerns about losing precious ancient manuscripts of the northeast due to mishandling or lack of infrastructure for safekeeping.
“… There are numerous collections of Puya text (old manuscripts) written in archaic Manipuri language as well as religious scriptures written in Sanskrit and Buranjis of Assam requiring serious attention towards their scientific preservation,” Mr Singh said in the letter.
Mr Singh and the other MP from Manipur, Lorho S Pfoze, have been calling for peace in the ethnic violence-hit state. In May, the two MPs met a group of intellectuals from Manipur’s Meitei and Kuki communities in Delhi and discussed how to bring normalcy in the state.
Mr Rajan in May – the month violence broke out in Manipur – had cautioned policymakers and leaders against what he called the threat of “Balkanisation on ethnic lines” in Manipur.
The BJP MP, whose Lok Sabha constituency is Inner Manipur, had asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi to “curb and control” with “a strong hand” any attempt at breaking up the state, where 35 ethnic groups live.