ILP What we need to do now
- Part 1 -

Dr Khomdon Lisam *

ILP : Meira Protest Rally at Imphal Areas demanding implementation of ILPS in Manipur :: June 1 2016
ILP : Meira Protest Rally at Imphal demanding implementation of ILPS in Manipur on June 1 2016 :: Pix - Shankar Khangembam

Today Manipur is in turmoil, chaos, uncertainty and in flames. Manipur is sitting on a volcano which may explode any time. Today, we have a serious communication gap and misunderstanding between the various ethnic groups mainly among Meiteis, Nagas, Kukis leading to lack of trust, lack of unity, communal disharmony which may ignite a civil war and social unrest among the various communities. We have to remember that Manipur belongs to the Nagas, Kukis, Meiteis and Meitei Pangans. Many Nagas and Kukis sacrificed their lives to protect and save Manipur from disintegration. Without Nagas, without Kukis, without Meiteis and without Meitei Pangans, this land cannot be called Manipur. Without the history of Nagas and Kukis, the history of Manipur is not complete. The State Govt should work in greater interest of all ethnic groups in Manipur.

To me, at this juncture, restoration of love, unity, communal harmony among the Nagas, Kukis and Meiteis is more important than Inner Line Permit or Schedule Tribe Demand. Manipur is burning because of the three bills passed by the State Assembly. On 31 August, 2015, the Manipur State Legislative Assembly passed three bills namely (1) the Manipur Peoples Protection Bill-2015 (2) the Manipur Land Revenue & Land Reforms (Seventh Amendment) Bill 2015 (3) the Manipur Shops & Establishment (Second Amendment Bill -2015.

On the same day at about 6 pm, a mob in Churachandpur erupted into violence ransacking and setting fire on the houses of Shri Phungzathang Tonsing, Hon'ble Health Minister, Shri Vungzagin Valte, Hon'ble MLA of Thanlon Constituency. The mob also attacked the residences of Ginsuanhau, Hon'ble MLA of Singhat, Shri Manga Vaiphei, Hon'ble MLA of Henglep constituency. Mr Lunminthang Haokip, the Deputy Commissioner of Churachandpur imposed CrPC-144 with effect from 7 pm of the same day to control the mob. Nine precious lives have been lost and many are injured due to police firing. The people have declared the nine victims as Martyrs on 4th September, 2015. The indiscriminate police firing leading to death of nine people should be condemned in the strongest terms and the Government should conduct an enquiry and compensate the loss.

Many tribal civil Societies including United Naga Council (UNC), Kuki Inpi Manipur, All Tribal Students Union Manipur (ATSUM), All Naga Students Association Manipur (ANSAM), Zoumi Council, Manipur Tribal Union, COPTAM and Zeliangrong Union etc. opposed the three bills. Many Tribal leaders from Nagaland, Mizoram, Meghalaya expressed their solidarity with the uprising at Churachandpur. They termed the three bills as Anti-Tribal Bills. The Tribal leaders are doing intense lobbying to urge the President of India not to give assent to the bill.

This is happening because of inept handling of the situation by the Manipur State Government. The JCILPS should have started the mass campaign in the valley districts after mutual consultation with and clearing of all the points raised by the Civil Society Organisations of hill districts. The three bills are now lying with His Excellency, the President of India.

I want to ask one question Can we influence the decision of the President of India by indulging in public curfew, road blockade, general strike, human chain, meira rally, dharnas etc. The answer is definitely NO. The public curfew, road blockade, general strike have caused immense hardships and suffering to the common people and daily wage workers. It only shows our frustrations and lawlessness. Rather, this will have negative impact in the mind of the national political leaders. Our hill brothers are not happy because of the following reasons:

(1) Definition of "Manipur people" According to the Manipur Peoples Protection Bill-2015, Manipur People is defined as "Persons of Manipur whose names are found in the National Register of Citizens, 1951 or Census Report of 1951 or Village Directory of 1951 and their descendants, who have contributed collective social, social, cultural and economic life of Manipur. Considering the low level of literacy, lack of communication facilities, lack of transport facilities, lack of record keeping facilities and skills and ignorance of the people in 1951, our hill brothers fear that thousands of the indigenous people might face the risk of being identified as foreigners. This fear may be genuine.

(2) Cut off year -1951:

The Manipur Peoples Protection Bill-2015 mentioned cut off year as 1951 based on National Register of Citizens, 1951 or Census Report of 1951 or Village Directory of 1951. This creates a fear psychosis among the people of Churachandpur that many people are at risk of being identified as foreigners. This cut off date may not be practicable, not implementable and may be objected by His Excellency, the Governor of Manipur or His Excellency, the President of India considering the Indian nationality law. The grant of Indian citizenship is governed by Articles 5 to 11 (Part II) of the Constitution of India. The legislation related to this matter is the Citizenship Act 1955, which has been amended by the Citizenship (Amendment) Act 1986, the Citizenship (Amendment) Act 1992, the Citizenship (Amendment) Act 2003, and the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2005.

Any person born in India on or after 26 January 1950, but prior to the commencement of the 1986 Act on 1 July 1987, is a citizen of India by birth. A person born in India on or after 1 July 1987 is a citizen of India if either parent was a citizen of India at the time of the birth. Those born in India on or after 3 December 2004 are considered citizens of India only if both of their parents are citizens of India or if one parent is a citizen of India and the other is not an illegal migrant at the time of their birth. In September 2013, Bombay High Court gave a judgement that a birth certificate, passport or even an Aadhaar card alone may not be enough to prove Indian citizenship, unless the parents are Indian citizens.

Our hill brothers feared that if the 1951 cut off date is implemented, then more than half the population in the hill areas and Jiribam will become outsiders. The fear of the hill people may be genuine considering the low literacy rate, poor communication, poor record keeping of 1951. Further it will be very difficult to implement.

Money Bill

The Government introduced Manipur Peoples Protection Bill-2015 as Money Bill and obtained recommendation of the Governor under Clauses (1) and (3) of Article 207 of the Constitution of India.). The definition of "Money Bill" is given in the Article 110 of the Constitution of India. Money Bill relates to imposition of taxes and expenditures likely to involve transaction affecting the Consolidated Fund of the Union or the State. The decision of the Speaker whether a particular Bill is a money Bill or not will be final. The Civil Societies of Hill districts argued that the Manipur Peoples Protection Bill-2015 fails to fulfil the criteria of a Money Bill. Hence referring to the Hill Areas Committee (HAC) is mandatory. They argued that the claim of the State Government that the said Bill is Money Bill is totally untenable as per law.

(4) Bypassing of the Hill Areas Committee:

The Bill shall extend to the whole State of Manipur and it invariably affects the hill people. The Civil Society Organisations in the hill districts asserted that the three bills would have been passed by the Hill Areas Committee (HAC) after the bills were introduced in the Manipur State Assembly. All Scheduled matters relating to the Hill Areas shall be within the purview of the HAC vide the Manipur Legislative Assembly (HILL AREAS COMMITTEE) ORDER, 1972: -Articles 4 Clause (2). Every Bill, other than a Money Bill affecting wholly or partly the Hill Areas and containing mainly provisions dealing with any of the Scheduled matters shall, after introduction in the Assembly, be referred to the HAC for consideration and report to the Assembly.

The State Government by not referring the Bill to HAC violates the provisions of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business of Assembly Rules 159 and 160. By introducing the said Bill in the Assembly and deliberately by-passing the Hill Areas Committee is in violation of the provisions of The Manipur Legislative Assembly (HILL AREAS COMMITTEE) ORDER, 1972: Articles 4 Clause (1).

(5) Indira-Mujib Treaty of 1972

The President of India may like to honour the Indira-Mujib Treaty of 1972 that all the refugees from Bangladesh, who entered India before 25 March, 1971 should be treated as Indians. But Government of Manipur and the Manipur State Assembly failed to mention this Indira-Mujib Treaty of 1972 in the bill. After all, this is a treaty between two Prime Ministers of India and Bangladesh, which is binding on the Government of India. If somebody goes to court, this may not be implementable. Further, there is no punishment clauses for non-Manipuris who do not get registered although there is punishment clauses for "owners" who fails to furnish the names and particulars of the tenants. Is it not ridiculous? Our legal experts pointed out that any Act without punishment clauses is like a paper tiger and will not be effective.

To be continued.....

* Dr Khomdon Lisam wrote this article for The Sangai Express
The writer can be reached at khomdon(DOT)lisam(AT) yahoo(DOT)com
This article was posted on June 03, 2016.

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