TODAY -

Indigenous peoples and internal divisions
- The Sangai Express Editorial :: August 31 2015 -



Lack of cohesion and disunity, misunderstanding and misgivings, distrust and insecurity seem to be the dominating characteristics of the organic relationship shared between the people of Manipur.

Both tribes as well as non-tribes are indigenous people of the land and the sustained people’s movement was for protection of all indigenous people.

Then wasn’t the movement for socio-economic and political security of all the indigenous people? Throughout the course of the sustained movement, there was very little or no involvement of people living in the hill areas.

A mass rally taken out at Moreh in solidarity to the demand for enacting a constitutional safeguard for the indigenous people of Manipur was opposed and the rally turned violent.

Now the three Bills drafted by a drafting committee at the behest of the Government which was under immense pressure from the masses were already tabled in the Manipur Legislative Assembly on August 28 and they are likely to be passed tomorrow.

At the moment, we are not sure whether the Bills would be approved by the Governor or not.

Keeping aside the anxious questions whether the Bills would be approved by the Governor or not, one need to introspect why a sizeable section of the indigenous people of Manipur stayed away from the sustained movement all these months.

The same question assumes greater significance if one juxtaposes it with the voices of dissent raised by some quarters even before the Bills are passed.

It is on record that many prominent hill based organisations have raised strong objections against the three Bills.

Two student bodies have categorically stated that the Protection of Manipur Peoples (PMP) Bill 2015 should not be extended to the whole State of Manipur and the term ‘hill’ should be omitted from the same Act.

Another influential organisation has gone one step ahead by pleading the Governor not to give assent to the three Bills. These sudden developments tell something significant.

It is clear that the objectives and for that matter even connotations of the three Bills are not similar to the two groups standing on either side.

If it is on account of misreading or misunderstanding on the part of either party or both, then it must be thrashed out through dialogue and peaceful engagement.

If it is fuelled by ethno-centric politics, then it is imperative to search for an alternative politics which goes beyond rhetoric and ethnic politics.

Rhetoric says that these divisive politics are founded on the phenomena of dominant majority and subjugated minority.

This rhetoric may or may not have its own logic but we would rather suggest negotiation and reconciliation rather than drawing lines or ethnic boundaries.

At the same time, visionary planning and honest efforts are crucial to remove ‘insecurity complexes’ of minority community whether perceived or real.

Internal divisions and infighting cannot go on forever. It must be resolved and stopped once for all.

Internal conflicts and mutual distrust cannot be a way of life. We are all on the same boat.

Propelling the boat in different directions at the same time will be suicidal.

Given the voices of dissent, it is crucial to introspect whether the demand for enacting a constitutional safeguard for the indigenous people or the Bills drafted to put in place such a safeguard is in the collective interest of all the indigenous people.

If it is not so, then all must analyse deeper why it is not so.

Land, resources and identity are the three cornerstones of every ethnic group.

The Government as well as civil society organizations should be sensitive and tactful enough when any issue is linked to these elements.



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