TODAY -

Protest Rally in Delhi on crisis gripping tribal areas of Manipur

New Delhi, September 2, 2015



On the ongoing grave crisis gripping the tribal areas of Manipur, we, in the name of Manipur Tribal Students Delhi, would like to make the following statements:-

1. On 31 August, 2015, the Manipur Assembly passed three bills following sustained protests in the Manipur valley districts demanding the implementation of Inner Line Permit (ILP) system for the State. The three bills, taken together, will directly undermine the existing safeguards for the tribal ‘hill areas’ regarding land-ownership and population influx as the primary threat for the tribal people comes not from outside the state but the valley Meitei people itself. The tribal people have made their opposition to the Meitei demands clear. But, the tribal people were never consulted by the ‘Joint Committee’ which have been spearheading the demands, nor the Manipur Government which accepts them. The tribal MLAs in the Assembly, fearing for their lives, dare not oppose the Bills when the Bills were introduced and passed in the Assembly.

2. The Hill Areas Committee (HAC), comprising of all tribal MLAs, which was set up under Article 371C of the Constitution to protect tribal interests and whose concurrence is mandatory for all legislation affecting tribal areas, was summarily brushed aside.

3. In response, some tribal bodies organized protests which soon went out of control. Government sent in the so-called Manipur Police Commandos, who are well known for their communal antipathy towards the tribals. As of writing, eight tribal people have died, and more than 50 injured.

4. We strongly condemn the highhanded and deeply biased manner in which the Manipur Government responded to the protests. While the Manipur police uses rubber bullets for the valley protesters, live bullets were freely used for tribal protesters. Of course, this is not the first time such visible partiality is exhibited by the state police commandos. Ukhrul (2014), Mao Gate in Senapati District (2010) and Moreh (2007), among others, have all experienced such partiality in the past and protested against it. We demand that the State Police Commandos be immediately withdrawn from tribal areas and central forces deployed, if need be.

5. We would like to reiterate that the tribal people were never consulted during the entire process of the demand for ILP in the state. This, when the said Bills directly impinged on the existing special provisions for Manipur tribals. Despite that, the ‘Joint Committee’ claimed in their Memorandum of 8 August (which the Government accepted in toto, and on the basis of which the three bills were prepared) that they are speaking ‘on behalf of the people of Manipur’. This is misleading and deeply disrespectful of the tribal population of the State.

6. As for the proposed ILP regime, we strongly object to and condemn the wholesale dubbing of the tribal people, especially the Kuki groups in and around Moreh, as ‘internal immigrants from Myanmar’. The expression, and the accusations were used not only by Meitei common people in social media and other fora, but also by members of the so-called ‘Joint Committee’ from which it readily find acceptance with sections of the media.

7. The Manipur tribal people never occupy other people’s land. They never crossed into ‘Manipur’ from somewhere else. In fact, the political entity called Manipur was imposed on them.

8. We support the ongoing demands for ‘separate administration’ of the hill tribal areas of Manipur, be they a separate state or Autonomous Hill State or an arrangement under the 6th schedule to the Constitution. We are convinced, more than ever, that the Plain Meiteis and the tribal Hills are never meant to be together politically.

9. Meanwhile, we will never accept any attempts to tinker with the existing constitutional safeguards for the tribal people of Manipur.

10. Lastly, we would like to point out that the scary atmosphere created by the ‘Joint Committee’ since the launch of the ILP agitations never gave room for constructive debate. The Ibobi Singh Government was browbeaten to accept each and every demand made by the ‘Joint Committee’. There is utter lawlessness. The writ of the Government have long ceased to run in Manipur. We therefore, demand that the entire state be immediately placed under President’s Rule till such time normalcy is restored.

A peaceful rally in support of and in solidary with our tribal brethren back home will be held at Jantar Mantar, New Delhi starting from 2 pm on 2 September, 2015. The Manipur Tribal Students, Delhi invites members of the media and anyone sympathetic to our plight to come join us for the rally.


* This Press Relese was sent to e-pao.net
This Press Release was posted on Septemeber 4 2015

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