TODAY -

CCpur JAC says no to Bill 'detrimental' to tribal interests
Source: The Sangai Express

Imphal, August 13 2016 : India celebrates its 70th Independence Day on August 15 however the once self-sufficient and sovereign tribal people in the present State of Manipur have remained under the Manipur Government's "prejudicial policy of cultural subjugation, social marginalisation and economic exclusion" for the last many decades since Manipur became a part of independent India, the JAC against Anti-Tribal Bills said today.

During the British era the indigenous tribes inhabiting the hills of present Manipur were administered separately—the hills administered by the British political agent and the valley by the Manipur Durbar, the JAC said in a statement.

It said the Manipur Maharajas' Durbar never had a say in the administration of the hill areas as noted by Sir Robert Reid, the then Governor of Assam in the history of frontier areas bordering Assam, 1893-1941 .

The Joint Committee said that in fact, the Merger Agreement with the Indian Union signed by Manipur's Maharaja Bodhachandra Singh extends only to the valley areas of the present Manipur measuring 26,500 paris/hectares and it does not cover even a single inch of hill areas leaving the hills under various tribal chiefs who are the supreme lords over their respective tribal territories.

The Indian Constitution also recognises the distinct differences between the indigenous tribes of the hills and the dominant non-tribal community inhabiting the valley, thereby guaranteeing special rights and privileges to the tribals in Manipur under Article 371 C, it said.

It said Manipur has always had two members of Parliament—one for dominant non-tribal community of the Inner Manipur Constituency and one for the tribal people of the Outer Manipur Constituency.

Despite recognising this distinctive contrast between the tribal peoples and the dominant community in the valley, the plight of the tribals in present Manipur continues to be ignored and incessantly downplayed by both the Union Government and State Government as well, the committee alleged.

While the conundrum over the three anti-tribal bills passed by the State Assembly are still ongoing, the Manipur Government has promptly drafted a new Bill in place of the withheld Protection of Manipur People (PMP) Bill, 2015 which is an "insult" to the tribal martyrs and the tribal people in Manipur.

The press release issued by the Outer Manipur Tribals' Forum (OMTF) on July 11, 2016 also declared that if any Bill which is detrimental to the hill areas and its people be introduced and passed in the "communal Assembly," the tribal people shall never accept such a Bill under any circumstances and it will be considered as an insult and challenge to the tribal people, according to the statement.

"With the Government continuing its 'blatant disregard and disrespect' against the tribal people, the tribal JAC will be organising a mass sit-in on August 15 starting from 11 am at Salphate, Pumbuk and Hiyangtam Lamka at Lamka in Churachandpur district," it added.


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