TODAY -

Time for debate, dialogue and negotiation?
- The Sangai Express Editorial :: January 16 2016 -



The situation is nowhere near settlement.

Rather, it seems the wall of division which in this case happens to be the three controversial Bills passed by the Manipur Legislative Assembly on August 31 last year is growing taller and taller.

The JAC formed against the killing of nine people in Churachandpur has made it clear that they would stay away from this year’s Republic Day celebration allegedly against subjugation and denial of fundamental rights of tribal people by the State Government and feigning ignorance by the Government of India.

On the other hand, the Joint Committee on Inner Line Permit System (JCILPS) has already launched a mobilization campaign for a renewed movement. For the State Government, this is a perfect case of catch 22 situation.

In another word, the State is caught between the proverbial devil and the deep blue sea.

If one goes by the surface value, there is nothing contradictory between the positions adopted by the JCILPS and the JAC.

While the JAC has been demanding that their rights and interests should be protected, the JCILPS has been struggling for enactment of a constitutional safeguard for all indigenous people of Manipur, including both non-tribes and tribes from the onslaught of incessant influx from outside the State.

Whereas the JAC has been opposing the Bills tooth and nail on the ground that they impinge upon the rights and interests of tribal people, the JCILPS has asserted time and again that the three Bills would serve the interests of all indigenous people of the land.

Then what is behind the diametrically opposite positions adopted by the JAC and the JCILPS?

It is rather disappointing that the pro-Bills group and the anti-Bills group are taking two parallel paths which have no meeting point.

If the Government is not prompt and tactful enough in handling the issue, the two parallel paths may turn against each other and the two groups may head for a collision course.

If such a situation becomes a reality, it would be tragic for all the people living in Manipur.

Sitting on either side of the wall and vindicating the three Bills through volumes of arguments and rejecting the Bills with an equal volume of counter arguments would only create trouble and turmoil.

One common mental disposition which runs deep among the anti-Bills as well as proBills 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 visa-vis the three controversial Bills.

Both the champions and antagonists of the three Bills have presented their arguments to the Government but they have never engaged each other directly or indirectly so far.

If there is no hidden agenda or larger political conspiracy, the two sides should not be afraid to debate the Bills openly.

The State Government should take the initiative to bring the two sides to a negotiating table. Let them debate, negotiate, thrash out differences and come to a negotiated settlement. Only then the Government can act.

Till this time, the Government should limit its role to that of a facilitator or a moderator.

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

Hill-valley dichotomy cannot always run parallel. There should be a meeting point.

Each and every community should be taken into confidence before enacting any legislation which has direct or indirect bearings on the life, rights and collective interests of any community.

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



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