Clearing the Apprehensions of the JACATB and ZC vis-a-vis the Movement for Inner Line Permit System in Manipur till 2015
- Part 1 -

Homen Thangjam / Shukhdeba Sharma Hanjabam / Aheibam Koireng Singh *

ILP : People from Singngat area took march from singngat to Churachandpur on August 30 2016
ILP : People from Singngat area took march from singngat to Churachandpur on August 30 2016 :: Pix - Thangpu Simte

I. Joint Action Committee on Anti-Tribal Bills

Joint Action Committee on anti-Tribal Bills (JACATB) is body representing the interest of the CHIKUMI (Chin-Kuki-Mizo or otherwise Zomi peoples) residing in Manipur. It does not represent the interest and rights of other tribals in Manipur such as the Nagas, Kabuis and other smaller tribes which does not fall within the category of the Nagas and CHIKUMI. JACATB was formed by Kuki Innpi Churachandpur, Hmar Innpui, Zomi Council, Mizo People’ Convention, Manipur and Joint Philanthropic Organisations, Joint Women’ Association and various tribal student bodies in Churachandpur on September 2, 2015.

At present, JACATB has representation from Hmar Inpui, Kuki Inpi Churachandpur, Mizo People’s Convention Manipur, Kuki Inpi Manipur, Zomi Council, Hmar Students’ Association, Kuki Students’ Organization, Hmar Youth Association, Kuki Khonglai Lawmpi, Young Mizo Association, Zomi Youth Association, Mizo Zirlai Pawi, Thadou Kuki Students’ Union, Zomi Students’ Federation, Hmar Women Union, Kuki Women Human Rights Organization, Mizo Peoples Council/Women Wing and Zomi Mothers’ Association. H. Mangchinkhup is the Chief Convener of JACATB and Lalkhohao Chongloi is the Convener (Administration).

JACATB and its Activities:

1) Since 31st Aug, 2015 till date, to control violent activities;
2) Declared the 9(nine) death as TRIBAL MARTYRS;
3) Fasting Prayer by hundreds of Pastors, Reverend and Elders from all denominations in the District;
4) Uninterrupted Sit-in-Protest (dharna) by women-folks in different localities;
5) Organise the largest ever Torch-Rally in Manipur by about 20000 people;
6) The longest Human-chain (about 12kms from Kangvai to Lamka town) and signature campaigns;
7) Pressured the two umbrella tribal armed groups under SoO (KNO and UPF) to stand united and demand for a ‘Separate administration’ for the tribal in Manipur;
8) Lobbying with all like-minded organisations within and outside the country;
9) Petitioned the Hon’ble President of India, Hon’ble Prime Minister of India, Hon’ble Union Home Minister, and Hon’ble Governor of Manipur to immediately redress the plights of Manipur tribal within the Constitutional provisions of the country;
10) Demand for immediate repeal or withdrawal of the three Bills
11) Demand, the State Government to convene a Special Assembly within September 2015 and pass another Bill for exclusion of areas under the Six Autonomous District Councils of Manipur including pockets of land amalgamated with valley District, without the knowledge and consent of the tribal, from the three antitribal Bills;
12) For a better administration and durable peace and development, the Government must create a “Separate political Administration” for the tribals outside the State Government. Towards this objective, political talks with UPF and KNO should be expedited immediately;
13) Supported ATSUM’s ultimatum to all Hill MLAs to resign on or before September 30, 2015;
14) Respectable and historic Christian burial programme will be performed shortly in consultation with the victims’ families;
15) Constitute an enquiry on the firing and killing of innocent tribal by State Security Forces.

Memorandums Submitted

JACATB has submitted 4(five) memorandums so far to air its grievances. But it withdrew the memorandum submitted to the Chief Minister of Manipur on September 3, 2015. Thereafter, the first memorandum to be submitted was to the President of India on September 6, 2015. Second memorandum was submitted to the Prime Minister of India (Requesting for separate political administration for the tribals of Manipur State and speed up political dialogue with SoO (suspension of operation) groups viz. KNO and UPF at the earliest) on September 7, 2015.

The third memorandum was submitted to the Union Home Minister of India (Requesting Immediate Intervention to redress the grievances of the tribals of Manipur State) on September 8, 2015. The fourth and final memorandum was submitted to the Governor of Manipur (requesting intervention) on September 9, 2015. This was followed by series of press handouts (notably on September 22, 2015 after an Observer headed by Shri. Ashok Prasad, IPS, the Secretary (Internal Security), Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India visited Manipur).

Contents of the memorandums are more or less the same. Right from the beginning of its protest, JACC has not articulated specific or clause by clause objection against the contents of the 3(three) bills. In fact, it parroted the line taken up by other organizations/bodies such as ATSUM only on September 22, 2015 in its Press Handout (it shall be dealt with in subsequent sections). Although JCILP is solely devoted to the implementation of the 3(three) bills, we feel it is our moral responsibility to answer to the allegations levelled by JACC to straighten out certain issues for record. The allegations/pleas of the three memorandums mentioned above are summarized below with comments of the authors.

JACATB: Reaction of the tribals to the Bills passed by the Manipur State Assembly on August 31, 2015 signifies the deep division between the tribals in the hills and the non-tribals in the valley.
AUTHORS: This claim is invalid. Historically the chasm has been between the tribals in the hills of Manipur. Hmar-Kuki Clash of 1960 is a grim reminder. Further, in 1992 and the years that followed ethnic conflict took place between the Nagas and Kukis (historical enemies) killing of more than 1500 tribals. NSCN-IM termed the Kukis as “foreigners”.

According to Th. Muivah “Our men went and attacked their (sic. Kuki National Army) army camp near the Burmese side of Chandel because they started forcing the Nagas to leave their respective homes and villages. If the foreigners start driving the indigenous Naga people, we could not remain silent” (Th. Muivah in his interview with Deepak Dewan in Bangkok, Thailand, Appeared in the North East Sun, August 1-14, 1998).

In 1997-1998, there was conflict between the Thadou Kuki and Paite Zomi on the issue of nomenclature. In all these instances the valley people provided shelter and support to the victims of the conflicts. The reaction that erupted in Churchandpur against the 3(three) bills are not a manifestation of deep division between the tribals in the hills and the non-tribals in the valley. But it was on account of the presence of thousands of non-native population who control the district politically and economically.

JACATB: Tribals in Manipur, a minority community, have been subjugated and neglected by the majority people for ages. The four valley districts in Manipur are among the most advanced districts in the entire North East India. The six autonomous districts are within the bottom ten most underdeveloped districts in the region. Tribals are voiceless and hapless since they are outnumbered both within and outside the State Assembly (the ratio of tribal to non-tribal MLAs in the State Assembly is 20:40)
AUTHORS: There is no evidence to prove this. Presence of more than 500 tribal villages/localities in the Imphal valley is testimony to this fact. None has been harassed even during the times of “extension of cease-fire agreement” to Manipur in 2001. The allegations that the valley people have snatched away the shares of the tribal, and that the tribals are subjugated are misplaced.

First of all, the armed groups based in the hills of Manipur, which have either entered into Suspension of Operation with the Government or the ones which have entered into peace-talks are equally responsible for the underdevelopment in the hills. First, as strategies they have forbidden any developmental work, particularly laying down of roads which will facilitate movement of security forces. Second, for the purpose of propaganda they have wilfully created a base of cadres of activists who noisily complain about the underdevelopment of the hill areas as a result of exploitation by the Meiteis. As a result, the outfits have successfully propagated that the hill people are not treated as citizens by the Manipur Government.

But what the outfits and their frontal organizations have not informed to the people is that development funds, either for valley or the hills, are being eaten up by the local leaders in collusion with the people in power (state and non-state). Common people in the valley and hills are not involved. So it will be wrong to blame a particular community, say for example the Meiteis (majority), for the woes of a particular area.

An examination of the Department of Tribal Affairs reveals that the Minister concerned has always been a tribal. Moreover, there are times when even the Chief Minister is a tribal (Rishang Keishing and Y. Saiza are outstanding example). During such times one neither witnesses any development in the hill areas nor complains about the deficit. Here it is worthwhile to remember what Honourable MP Thangso Baite remarked on January 18, 2013. He said, “Till date, the post of Tribal Development Minister has always been held by tribal. No Meetei has ever held the post. Under such a condition it would be wrong to blame the Meeteis settling in the valley of snatching away the shares of the tribal. We should not blame others for the faults we have committed”.

As far as tribal development is concerned, it is surprising to note that Manipur is one amongst the states in India with adequate/excess funding (budget allocations) for the same. The table given below is self-explanatory.

Year ST Population % State Plan Outlay (Rs. in Crores) Flow to Tribal Sub-Plan (TSP: Rs. in Crores) % of TSP Annual Plan
2008- 09 34.2 16660.00 731.73 44.10
2009-10 34.2 2000.00 741.15 37.1
2010-11 34.2 2600.00 1017.50 39.1
2011-12 34.2 3210.00 1168.37 36.4

Source: Annual Reports, Ministry of Tribal Affairs, Government of India, 2012.

Besides, there has always been complains of concentrating development in the valley areas as a way of discriminating the people in the hills. But, it is interesting to note that, when the Indira Gandhi National Tribal University, Regional Campus Manipur was proposed to be set up in Manipur, the tribal civil society bodies, academicians, politicians and advisors settled the location of the University at plain area.

Officially, the area belongs to Senapati but it is just about 20-25 km from Imphal. None of the tribal activists complained about it. Similarly, it is the United Naga Council who give the permission to extract oil from Tamenglong while the non-tribals from the valley are the ones who is leading the movement against the extraction of natural resources. It is unfortunate that only the tribal civil societies, which areas are going to be affected, are involved in the protest.

If we examine the present administrative set up of Manipur, it will not be wrong to call a Manipur a ‘Tribal Administered State’ as most of the high profile administrators or decision makers are from the tribal community. For instance, both the Additional Chief Secretary are from the tribal community. Out of the eight Principal Secretaries, three belong to tribal community while one is a Meiteis and the rest is from outside the state.

Similarly, out of the 14 Commissioners, six belong to tribal community, five are Meiteis and the rest is from outside the state. Moreover, nine out of 16 senior police officers are listed from tribal communities. This set up does not include the 20 elected members (MLA) from the tribal community who also constitute the Hills Area Committee (HAC) which looks exclusively for the welfare of the hill areas. This also does not include the one Member of Parliament from the tribal community (out of three MPs).

This set-up simply negates the ill-founded complains against the Meiteis. Then, the issue is why is the tribal areas not developed when ample amount of money is pumped in and when such a huge number of tribal administrators are involved in the state administration. Now, it is high time the Government comes up with a “white paper” on tribal development in order to clear up the misinformation and confusion.

The allegation that Tribals are voiceless and hapless since they are outnumbered both within and outside the State Assembly (the ratio of tribal to non-tribal MLAs in the State Assembly is 20:40) is incredible. The ratio 1:2 is based on population criteria (what is known as proportional representation followed throughout India). But what needs to be acknowledged is the grim reality of denying the valley population from contesting elections in the Outer Manipur Parliamentary Constituency (for Lok Sabha Elections) in place since Manipur became a part of India.

To be continued.....

* Homen Thangjam / Shukhdeba Sharma Hanjabam / Aheibam Koireng Singh wrote this article for
The writer can be contacted at akoireng(AT)gmail(DOT)com
This article was posted on November 06, 2016.

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