TODAY -

Democratic space exploited : NPMHR
Source: The Sangai Express

Senapati, December 05 2016: The Naga People's Movement for Human Rights-South Sector (NPMHR-S) has said that the "deepening present political crisis in the State of Manipur raises some fundamental issues and questions" .

According to the NPMHR-S, "development and events in Manipur indicate that democratic spaces have been consciously exploited and arbitrarily suppressed by the State; existing concerns and apprehensions of different communities in Manipur have been abused to politicalize peoples' issues, generate fear and suspicions, and create communal disharmony" .

The human rights group stated that in a democracy it is the moral responsibility of those in public office to ensure that democratic political space is created and upheld to foment a spirit of constructive debate and engagement among all in identifying solutions.

However, in Manipur, the manner and spirit in which legislative and administrative decisions are sought to be taken, as evidenced by events, suggest that existing Constitutional guarantees and mechanisms for all people in Manipur, particularly the tribal and minority communities, have been deliberately circumvented or illegally and completely disregarded, the NPMHR-S added.

"For instance, the guarantee afforded by Article 371C of the Constitution of India in safeguarding the interest of the Hill Areas has been time and again contravened.

The Hill Areas Committee, mandated under Article 371C, and whose primary function is to protect the interest of those in the Hill Areas, has been made weak and its powers intentionally circumvented and treated as an obstacle rather than an institution essential to the judicious functioning of the Government," it stated.

According to the NPMHR-South Sector, the controversies around Sadar Hills and Jiribam and the three Bills (The Protection of Manipur People Bill 2015, Manipur Land Revenue & Land Reforms 7th Amendment Bill 2015, the Manipur Shops And Establishments 2nd Amendment Bill, 2015) etc are symptomatic of the larger underlying problems of institutional deficiencies and design defects that require a process in which the people have to be taken into confidence by enabling them with the required technical advice and resources to take informed decisions.

"This requires pursuing processes that respect the dignity and liberty of everyone within a framework that validates the rule of law instead of actions such as bandhs, blockades and counter blockades.

It also calls for much deeper introspection and reflection among every quarter of the society in identifying the real underlying issues instead of firefighting and reacting to the symptoms," the NPMHR-S said.

According to the NPMHR-South Sector, the minimum the Government of Manipur must urgently do to resolve the present crisis is to open up democratic space and initiate informed consultations on issues by clearly declaring commitment to respecting and acting upon Constitutional guarantees like Article 371C."Unless, this is done, the underlying issues that have led to organizations calling bandh and blockade would continue," it added.


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