The Manipur Cabinet has approved the introduction of the Manipur Names of Places Bill, 2024, which is aimed at preventing the misuse of the official names of places in the state, reported The Indian Express. It will be considered in the fifth session of the 12th Manipur Legislative Assembly, scheduled to start on February 28.

A proposal for the bill by the Land Resources Department emphasises the need to “establish an institutional mechanism to enforce correct use of names of places” and to “lay down procedures for giving names to places, and also for altering names of places”.

“The draft bill proposes the creation of a ‘Place Names Committee’ to make recommendations on place names subject to government approval,” said Manipur Information and Public Relations Minister S Ranjan Singh.

Manipur has been gripped by ethnic clashes between the Meitei and the Kuki communities since early May. Over 200 people have been killed since the conflict broke out and nearly 67,000 persons have been forced to flee their homes.

The conflict extends to the official names of places in the state, The Indian Express reported. For example, in the Kuki-Zomi-dominated Churachandpur district, people have begun to refer the area by its colloquial name of Lamka.

This is because the district’s official name is derived from that of the Meitei king Churachand Singh, who helmed the Manipur Kingdom from 1891 to 1941. The name Lamka has begun to appear prominently on homes, shops and even government offices in the district.

“There have been multiple instances of the use of unauthorised names of places by certain individuals or groups of people or organisations, with possible malafide intent, which had the potential to create confusion in the administration of the state,” states the Land Resources Department’s proposal for the Manipur Names of Places Bill.

“Certain administrative challenges are also faced due to such unauthorised use of names of places at the time of discharging their duties by government officials,” the proposal adds.

In October, the chief secretary of Manipur had warned of action against persons or groups engaged in “deliberately renaming or trying to rename districts, sub-divisions, places, institutions, and addresses of such institutions”.