Imphal: The Northeast India is a favourite region for evangelical forces. Conversion through forceful means, monetary assistance, education, and various miracle practices are a daily affair in Hindu-populated states like Manipur, Tripura and Arunachal Pradesh.
Miraculously, after the May 3 ethnic violence broke out in Manipur, various fake schools allegedly affiliated with the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) have popped up in Churachandpur and Kangpokpi districts.
A self-styled leader of the Kuki-Zo community posted on social media on December 14, 2023, that 20 educational institutions in Churachandpur and 16 in Kangpokpi were affiliated with the CBSE.
The information caught the public’s eye: how did these schools manage to get CBSE affiliation during this period of unrest in Manipur?
After a preliminary investigation, the state government clarified in a press release by Anjali Chongtham, the Joint Secretary of the Government of Manipur (Education-S), “The state government has not issued any ‘No Objection Certificate’ (NOC) for the affiliation of the mentioned educational institutions with the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) to any educational institutions in Churachandpur and Kangpokpi since May 2023.”
According to the School Affiliation Re-Engineered Automation System (SARA 4.0) of CBSE as of December 18, 2023, altogether 28942 schools in the country are affiliated with CBSE of which 107 are from the state of Manipur. Imphal West district has the highest number of CBSE-affiliated schools (41) followed by 19 in Churachandpur and 16 in Kangpokpi districts.
Interestingly, all the private schools in Churachandpur and Kangpokpi got CBSE affiliation, and around May 2023, the momentum of the ongoing ethnic violence in Manipur culminated at its peak.
The affiliation bylaws of CBSE clearly state that the state government has to provide a No Objection Certificate (NOC) to proceed with the CBSE affiliation process. Despite having its own standard and rigorous affiliation process, more than 20 private schools purportedly backed by Christian missionaries got affiliation to CBSE simultaneously. It raised the eyebrows of many.
When contacted, a high-level official of the Department of Education (S), revealed that a few of the school authorities have allegedly forged the signatures of concerned Zonal Education Officers (ZEO) to apply for CBSE affiliation.
The Education Minister of Manipur, Th Bashanta Singh and Commissioner of Education (S), Gyan Prakash have rushed to New Delhi to inquire about the alleged affiliation scam. The CBSE disaffiliated 25 schools from Churachandpur and Kangpokpi after around 7 days of affiliation. The names of the disaffiliated schools are now available on its website.
“Central Board of Secondary Education, New Delhi has withdrawn the affiliation, which was recently granted to the schools listed below, with immediate effect, on the ground that the NOC submitted by these schools has not been issued by the authorised functionaries of the State Government and for cancellation of affiliation as requested by the State Government,” informed a statement signed by Anjali Chongtham, Joint Secretary (Education-S), Government of Manipur, on Tuesday.
While speaking with Organiser Weekly, a senior journalist based in Imphal (name withheld on request) expressed his apprehension about involving “powerful Kuki-Zo people in authority” in manipulating the entire process of CBSE affiliation.
It may be recalled that the official website of Air India was hacked and the address of the Air India ATO Imphal Airport Office was changed to Imphal Airport Lamka, allegedly by Kuki-zo miscreants, who have been demanding a separate Kukiland bifurcating the Churachandpur, Kangpokpi and other Kuki-inhabited areas of Manipur. Lamka is the local name for Churachandpur, which the Kuki-Zo people used to call fondly.
If the Kuki-Zo people could hack the official website of Airlines, it would not be difficult to manipulate the affiliation process of CBSE, a social worker based in Imphal opined.
The ongoing, unabated aggressive actions by the Kuki-Zo people in Manipur have claimed around 200 lives and injured more than 2000 people. After decades of social and political turmoil, Manipur was in anarchy. Peace and normalcy returned after 2017 and steadily performed well in governance and other developmental sectors. The state even emerged as the country’s most improved small state for the third consecutive time. Given the current social upheaval, Manipur has regressed to a state similar to 25 years ago!