Clearing the Apprehensions of the JACATB and ZC vis-a-vis the Movement for Inner Line Permit System in Manipur till 2015
- Part 4 -

Homen Thangjam / Shukhdeba Sharma Hanjabam / Aheibam Koireng Singh *

ILP : Around 5000 people from Singngat area took march from singngat to Churachandpur  :: August 30 2016
ILP : People from Singngat area took march from singngat to Churachandpur on August 30 2016 :: Pix - Thangpu Simte

ZC: The above cited facts and circumstances had recognized the Hills/Tribal Peoples of Manipur, irrespective of whether one had got registered under the National Register of Citizens, 1951.
AUTHORS: Administration is different from rules pertaining to citizenship. The issue here is not about the absence of administration for hill areas but if the “citizens” in the hill areas are indeed citizens of India or Manipur and whether they had registered themselves to receive the benefits of administration. What can be discerned from Table 1 and Table 2 is that there are records pertaining to villages/villagers of the hill areas in Manipur way back to 1947.

On the Bills

ZC: Ostensibly the Inner Line Permit System is to control the influx of outsiders into Manipur. The Bill introduced in the Special Session of Manipur Assembly in response to the demand of the Joint Committee on Inner Line Permit System (JCILPS) makes it crystal clear. ILP is apparently about outsiders but the hidden agenda is that it is against the native tribal/hill populace of the State.
AUTHORS: This allegation is not true. There are no hidden agenda. The spirit of JCILPS is to save Manipur from the influx of outsiders (including natives of Mizoram, natives of Myanmar, Bangladesh, Bihar, Nepal, Assam and others).

ZC: Outsiders are never really a threat because they cannot own land anyways in the valley area and never a competitors in the government Job market. The tribal people can own land in the valley area and are, therefore, a threat and a nuisance to the valley people. Moreover, the valley people wanted to grab the land of the tribals in the hill areas.
AUTHORS: Outsiders are indeed a threat. They are owning land not only in the valley areas but also snatching away/illegally occupying land in the hill areas. Also, outsiders occupy a large number of Government jobs as well as they have become a major workforce in the unorganized and trade and business sector. There are more than 300 tribal villages in the valley areas, which the valley people consider as their own brethren. Valley people does not eye the hill land/areas. The only concern is they need cooperation of the hill people to save land and resources of Manipur together.

ZC: Clause 2(b) of the Manipur People Bill 2015 define’ Manipur People” as “Persons of Manipur whose names are in the National Register of Citizens 1951, Census Report 1951 and Village Directory of 1951 and their descendants who have contributed collective social, cultural and economic life of Manipur”. This definition of Manipur People has so many implications. In the first place, to be considered as Manipur People, you or your fore fathers will have to be registered in three registers (i) National Register of Citizens 1951; (ii) Census Report 1951 and (iii) Village Directory 1951. Here notice the used of the word ‘and’. This means that even if you or your forefathers had been registered in anyone or any two of the above mentioned register, you will not be considered as Manipur People. You have to fulfil all three criteria. Many people will be left out because at that time the government machinery would not have reached every nook and corner of the State, especially the hill areas and most of the village are non-motorable at that time. This clause is against the provisions of the Citizenship Act of 1955.

AUTHORS: Points raised in this section carry merit. The word “and” was an intentional insertion by the Government of Manipur to sabotage the passing/approval of the Bills. Drafting Committee of JCILPS used the word “or” in its draft versions for the 3(three) criteria. The over sight can be corrected. It needed to be worked out together.

However, to allege that at that time the government machinery would not have reached every nook and corner of the State, especially the hill areas as most of the village were non-motorable is beyond justification. Table 1 is a notable illustration of ability of the Government to reach “anywhere”. Moreover, Village Directory was maintained under Manipur State Hill Peoples (Administration) Regulation, 1947 (for the purpose of house tax), a function later on taken up by the Village Authority from 1951.

Under Article 57 (1) of the The Manipur (Village Authority in Hill Areas) Act, 1956, “The Chief Commissioner was empowered, by notification in the Official Gazette, make rules for carrying out the purposes of this Act.” Article 57 (2) stipulates the matters for the rule making powers of the Chief Commissioner namely: a) The preparation, revision and final publication of electoral rolls for election of members of a Village Authority and the particulars to be entered in such rolls; b) the preliminary publication of electoral rolls in the village to which they relate; c) the manner in which and the time within which claims and objections as to entries in electoral rolls may be preferred and the authority

by whom such claims and objections may be decided; d) (g) the registers and records to be maintained and the returns to be submitted by Village Authorities and village courts and the particulars to be entered in such registers, records and returns There were a total of 725 village authorities constituted under the Manipur Village Authority (in Hill Areas) Act, 1956, in seven areas of the hills.

ZC: Why was the cut off year 1951 and not 1971 or 1981? Manipur attained statehood in 1972. If this definition is applied then most of the natives of Manipur at the times of its Statehood will not be considered Manipur People. Also, if the intended target is outsiders, when did the influx of outsiders in huge numbers starts? Maybe in the 1980s or 1990s. Why then the cut off year of 1951?
AUTHORS: The year 1951 is a procedural standard for discerning out outsiders as the process of registering for Indian citizenship started in this year. Influx in large numbers started in waves beginning with the Bangladesh War. M. Koireng Ministry had to settle Bangladesh migrants in Saiton. Secondly, the Mizo liberation movement under Laldenga in the 1960s pushed in large numbers of Mizo nationals into the territory of Manipur.

Then, this was followed by infiltration of Myanmar nationals (pro-democratic) as well as those who acted as intelligence agents to the Indian security personnel for counter insurgency operations into the soil of Manipur from the 1980s onwards. Finally, there has been the perpetual problem of illegal migration of Bangladeshis and Nepalese into Manipur. Therefore, 1951 as the cut-off year is the best tangible time considering the immense threat posed to Manipur. However, one can always learn from the issue of foreigners in Assam and how the Assam Government has arrived at an appropriate year considering the political nature of the issue.

This is something all of us can put our heads together for practical reasons.

ZC: The Bill is also silent about the procedure to be adopted for determination of Manipur People. It defines Manipur People but is silent about the procedure to determine whether one is Manipur People or not. It is not clear on whom the onus/ burden of proving whether a person is a native of Manipur or not lies. Whether the onus of proving lies with the person or the Government? This is not clear and in the absence of such, it is fearful that the onus will lie with the person. And how can one proves that he is a native of Manipur? Even if one’s grandfather can proves that he is a native of Manipur, the question is how he/ she proves himself/ herself to be the descendants of her/his grandfather? If the directory/ Register mentioned in the Bill are not in public domain, then how can one determine who are the natives of Manipur?

AUTHORS: A Bill cannot carry every rules and regulations (R&R) for the purpose of implementation in its provisions. Often, and in this case absolutely, guidelines and rules and regulations must be framed. Again learning from the ongoing exercise of Assam regarding its compilation of National Population Register, the onus of proving who is a native of Manipur must be a collective effort and best suited to the ground reality of Manipur. For practical reasons even the notion of link-descendent must be tolerated.

ZC: The Bill creates a new Statutory Body/Directorate of Registration of Non Manipur Persons and Tenants. But there is no appeal against the decisions of the Directorate.
AUTHORS: As mentioned above, rules and regulations are bound to be framed reflecting the spirit, philosophy and basis of the Bill. Therefore, there shall be provisions in the R&R for appeals and grievance redressal.

ZC: The definition of “Manipur People” in this particular Bill used in other Acts/Bills to deny services and facilities and amenities to the People of Manipur is clear from the ML & LR (Seventh Amendment) Bill 2015. Nowhere in the Original Act, 1960 or in the Amendment Bill 2015 is the definition of term “Manipur People” found used or was mentioned but in the Amendment Bill of 2015, a new word and term” Non-Manipur People” has been inserted. It is assumed that the term “Manipur People” and “NonČ Manipur People” are used as defined by the Protection of Manipur People Bill 2015. Similarly, in future laws these definitions used in the Protection of Manipur People Bill will used to deny services, amenities, facilities to the people of Manipur, especially the tribals.

AUTHORS: Understanding of “Manipur people” is subsumed in the Manipur Land Revenue and Land Reforms Act, 1960. The purpose of the 3(three) proposed bills passed in the State Assembly to precisely distinguish between the “Manipur people” and “Non-Manipur people”. Further, as correctly pointed out, there is no definition of “Manipur people” in the ML & LR (Seventh Amendment) Bill, 2015 as its understanding is again subsumed and must be read along with the relevant provisions of the Protection of Manipur People Bill 2015 when need arises for the “determination” of “Manipur” or “Non-Manipur people”. If any tribal or general people does not fall within the category of “Manipur people”, obviously services, amenities and facilities shall be denied to the.

ZC: The introductory part of the Manipur Land Revenue and Land Reforms Amendment Bill 2015 speaks about the geographical areas of the valley vis-a-vis the hill, the difference in the population and population density in the valley and hill areas and the pressure on land in the valley. If the ILPS agitation is all about the influx of outsiders, the Statement of Object of the Bill which was introduced in the Special Session of the Manipur Assembly in pursuance of the agitation of ILPS never once mentioned the influx of outsider.

AUTHORS: Statement of Object and statement of problem are two different issues. Influx of outsider is a problem statement, which becomes the core content of the 3(three) Bills.

ZC: In view of the above stated facts and circumstances, we are therefore of the view that the Manipur People Bill 2015 is against the interest of the tribal people of Manipur as it is intended to uproot the tribal populace from the place of their birth and would thus prayed to your humble office to kindly withheld your assent to the Bill and viewed the matter seriously to safeguard and protect the tribal against the onslaught of the majority valley people and for which act of your kind consideration, we shall remain indebted to you.

AUTHORS: From the above clarifications, it becomes evident that the 3(three) Bills are not an expression of majoritarian will but intended for the protection of Manipur People, its land and resources. Apprehension of ZC is completely misplaced.


* 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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