TODAY -

Issues on the indigenous question : Call for bicameral system
- The Sangai Express Editorial :: June 23, 2022 -



As always the issues are many and it is interesting to see civil society organisations raising their voice and stating what they are convinced is the right thing to do.

It is best left to the judgment of the people to decide whether CSOs raising their voice on sensitive issues of the land is desirable or not and this is where it becomes important for the Government to question why so many CSOs should pitch in with their stand on sensitive issues.

So even as the United Committee, Manipur went into a scuffle with police personnel in front of Kangla over an issue as sensitive as the territory of Manipur (the border pillar question at the Indo-Myanmar border), the Co-ordination Committee on Manipur Integrity (COCOMI) issued the call for a bicameral system to ensure that all the indigenous folks of the land are given representation in the legislature.

A system which is in vogue in quite a number of other States of the Indian Union.

The call for a bicameral system is better understood in the context of the indigenous folks versus the others who are perceived to have entered Manipur much later.

The interesting question is how does one define who is indigenous to the land and who is not.

This is where the call to enforce the National Register of Citizens (NRC) becomes significant.

To many of those rooting for a system to identify and weed out those who are not indigenous to the land, the base year of setting the NRC should be 1951.

It is however not clear whether the Government has the record of 1951 or even earlier or even after one decade that is 1961.

Whatever the issue, the call to save the people who are indigenous to the land should be understood.

Influx from other parts of the country and neighbouring countries like Bangladesh ad Myanmar has distorted the demographic profile of the people and the land, is the stand of COCOMI.

Not clear how seriously the call for a bicameral system would be taken by the Government, but a point has been delivered and this is something which the BJP led Government in Imphal must have taken note of.

And when one talks about a bicameral system to ensure that the indigenous folks are represented in the Assembly, let it also not be forgotten that a strong call has been raised to include the Meiteis in the Scheduled Tribe list of the Constitution of India.

It is only the interests of the Meiteis which have not been ensured any sort of Constitutional protection and hence the call for the ST tag is the line of reasoning given by the Scheduled Tribe Demand Committee, Manipur and the World Meetei Council.

Tough to say whether the call to give Constitutional protection to Meiteis in their own land and the call to give equal representation to the indigenous folks of the land can be viewed as two sides of the same coin, but the call to protect the indigenes of the land cannot be overlooked.

The call of the UCM to protect the territories of Manipur along the Indo-Myanmar border can also be seen through the same prism.

As noted earlier, it is tough to say how long these voices of concern and the suggestions offered will live in the consciousness of the people, but it must have already reached the ears and consciousness of the Government and this is where it would be interesting to see how it responds to the unfolding situation.

The call to save the indigenes is not something new and there are examples galore to explain why this has come about.



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