TODAY -

Insecurity, trust deficit and PMP Bill 2015
- The Sangai Express Editorial :: January 04 2016 -



Trust deficit is writ large. At least this much must be accepted by all stake holders; be it the State Government, the civil society organisations spearheading the mass movement for enacting a constitutional safeguard for protection of indigenous people or the other party which is deadly opposed to the three Bills passed by the Manipur Legislative Assembly purportedly for protection of indigenous people.

Whereas the pro-Bills camp and the ant-Bills group have been taking parallel paths, if not collision courses, with no meeting point in sight, it is the State Government which was/is engaged in dialogues with both the groups at different points of time but not simultaneously so far.

Holding dialogue per se does no harm but leaving out one group of key stake holder would be disastrous.

If the State is taken as the first party, there are two other parties which are deeply embroiled in the issue, and the positions adopted by the latter two are totally contradictory to each other.

As such, any solution worked out between the State and either of the two parties is bound to create serious socio-political repercussions as the other party is most likely to feel betrayed or marginalised.

This was exactly what happened when the three controversial Bills were passed on August 31, 2015 which led to violent public uproar in some hill districts, particularly Churachandpur.

One common mental disposition which runs deep among the anti-Bills as well as pro-Bills champions is insecurity.

While the pro-Bills crusaders feel threatened by incessant influx from outside the State, a deep sense of insecurity seems to have enveloped the anti-Bills campaigners vis-a-vis the three controversial Bills.

For those people who are opposing the three Bills, the definition of who and who constitute the indigenous people of Manipur is crucial.

Their sense of insecurity can be addressed considerably, if the vagueness and ambiguity in the definition of indigenous people (of Manipur) is rectified.

To our understanding, both the pro-Bills champions and anti-Bills protesters are indigenous people of the land.

Then why would one section of indigenous people oppose the three Bills which are basically aimed at enacting a constitutional safeguard for all the indigenous people of Manipur?

If the stiff opposition is any indication, either something is amiss or there is a serious misgiving or both. The impasse cannot drag on forever and there must be a solution.

The State must act responsibly and ad-hocism should not be given any place in handling such sensitive matters.

Yes, the Government passed the three Bills under intense pressure, not on its own volition.

And now the Government is under equally heavy pressure to withdraw the same Bills.

What a predicament!

It appears that the Government is caught between the proverbial deep blue sea and the devil.

Appeasement of one group by sidelining the opposite group would only create trouble and turmoil.

With the Churachandpur JAC openly voicing their scepticism about reaching a permanent solution to the present imbroglio with the State Government alone, it is crystal clear that there is a huge trust deficit.

To address the issue permanently, the State should start with trust building measures.

Although it is the State which would take the final decision whether to push for the three Bills or withdraw them, the State, for the moment, should limit its functions to that of a facilitator.

Bring the champions and antagonists of the three Bills face to face, let them talk directly, thrash out their differences if possible and if not, let them come to a negotiated settlement.

But engagement with only one party by leaving out the other party in cold would be self-defeating.

The pluralistic character of Manipuri society should be taken into account while working out any solution and for any solution to be durable, it must be comprehensive enough.

Moreover, all those civil society organisations camping on either side of the three Bills should make sincere endeavours to reach out to each other otherwise any headway in either direction would remain as elusive as ever.



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