TODAY -

Kuki chiefs' body reacts to CM's remark on land
Source: Chronicle News Service

Imphal, July 18 2021: Kuki Chief's Council Manipur has taken strong exception to the chief minister's recent 'all lands belong to the government' remarks made during a mass tree plantation programme at Mangjol village, Kangpokpi.

In a press statement, the Council said, "The unsavoury statement of the chief minister during the mass tree plantation programme at Mangjol village, Kangpokpi on the 5th July 2021 that all the lands in the state belong to the government shows lack of historical perception and political jurisprudence.

As an entity, Manipur has to be understood as coalesce of communities and amalgamation of their territories".

The chief minister's statement lacks the historicity of how Manipur came into being.

When the princely state of Manipur was conquered in 1892 by the British, each and every village of hill tribes was not affected and the princely state was administered through the Maharaja whereas the hill territories were separately administered by the British political agent through the chiefs, the Council contended.

It continued, "After the partition of India, the Manipur Merger Agreement was signed by the Maharaja in which he ceded 700 sq miles, but not even a single inch of the hill areas was covered under the agreement.

Even after Manipur was accorded Union Territory status, the tribal areas continued to be governed by the Manipur (Village Authority) Act 1956.And the land holding of the tribal area was through chieftainship system of whom the chiefs were designated as "LORDS OF THE SOIL" by Betran S Carey and HN Tuck, British Political Officer in their book - The Chin Hills, unlike Khaseland and individual Pattadar as was practiced in the valley areas governed by Manipur Land Revenue & L.R.Act 1960."Along with the attainment of Statehood, Article 371(C) was enacted in the Constitution of India which distinctly demarcated Manipur into Hill Areas and Valley Areas by the President of India giving special protection to the tribal settlement territories.

"The provision places the Hill Areas out of the purview and regulation of the Manipur MLR & L.R.Act 1960 which clearly states, 'It extends to the whole of Union Territory of Manipur, except the Hill Areas.

Thereof at Section I(2), while this was the case, the Govt.of Manipur made clandestine Amendments to design covert and insidious extension of MLR & L.R.Act 1960 into several portions of Hill Districts which was already protected and regulated under Article 371(C)".The Council then said, "The claims of the chief minister that all the lands in the state belong to the government is absolutely a contravention to the Constitution and an insult to the ancestral tribal administration of the Chieftainship Land Holding System which is much older than the government of the incumbent CM, Manipur".

The Kuki chiefs' body said, "Further, the attempted regulation of sale, purchase and gift on the pretext of Section 7 of the Bengal Eastern Regulation 1873 or ILP vide memo no 16/16/2019-R(Sale-Deed) dt 7/7/21 Rev Deptt GoMin ultra vires to the Constitution.

The transfer of Land either sale or gift in the Hill Areas has never been under the Revenue Deptt or regulated by MLR & LR Act 1960.And the order should be rescinded or modified to exclude the Hill Areas where separate land holding & transfer system applies under Article 371(C) and requires no ILP or Eastern Frontier Regulation 1873 from where the new rule emanates".

It then asserted, "Land is not just a commercial commodity for the Tribal people.

It is inherent to our culture, identity and livelihood with which we have a natural and mutual relationshipsustaining, preserving and protecting each other".

It, however, may be acquired by the government, if so required, for development purpose by following the letter and spirit of the existing laws.

But the chief minister should refrain from making sweeping statements which has the potential to misinform the general public of the plural narrative, legislative administration and land laws with the subtle intent to disenfranchise the tribal people of their ancestral rights and land holding system," the Council said further.

"Therefore, any desire to talk about law and its ownership, particularly, in the Hill Areas of Manipur, should begin with well-informed history and correct interpretation of the laws governing it.

And the government should respect the traditional land holding and transfer system of the Tribal people in the Hill Areas as regulated by Article 371(C) in order to maintain the delicate communal equilibrium of the State," it added.


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