Issues for the upcoming Manipur Legislative Assembly Budget session : March, 2013

Dr. Khomdon Lisam *

Capitol Complex - New Assembly Building
Capitol Complex - New Assembly Building :: Pix - TSE

Now the Manipur Legislative Assembly Budget session is likely to be started from the first week of March, 2013. The Budget session is the most important event of the State Legislative Assembly. But there will be sufficient time to discuss and pass resolutions on core issues of Manipur. What we require today is not increased fund flow or mega structures but to bring about lasting peace, equality, solidarity and unity of all ethnic groups in Manipur. This should be the top priority of the Manipur State Assembly and the Manipur Government.

Today Shri O. Ibobi Singh, our honourable Chief Minister stood by the voice of the people. He said a big "NO" to the demand of NSCN-IM and UNC for Alternative Administrative Arrangement outside the purview of the Manipur State Government even upto the extent of his resignation as Chief Minister. This is highly commendable. The people of Manipur shows indebtedness and gratitude to our honourable Chief Minister for his courage to take the right decision. But this is a temporary relief. The symptom will come back again just like malaria fever. We have to find a cure before it is too late.

Manipur belongs to more than 33 ethnic groups including Tangkhuls, Marams, Maos, Kabuis, Marings, Chothes, Khongjais etc. The term Naga and Kukis were invented only in the nineteenth century to prevent us from being united and to encourage us to fight to serve vital interest of the British. The same British policy of "divide and rule" was followed by the Government of India by incorporating many discriminatory provisions in the Indian constitution. It is time for us to re-look into the Indian Constitution. We should remember what B.R Ambedkar said on September 2, 1953 in the Rajya Sabha "my friends tell me that I have made the Constitution. But I am quite prepared to say that I shall be the first person to burn it out. I do not want it. It does not suit anybody...."

The problems of Manipur started with the adoption of Indian Constitution. Manipur had its own de jure constitution before India wrote her own. Manipur had a democratic form of Government before India become a democratic country in 1950. The Manipur kings used to wear Tangkhul traditional dress at the time of coronation. The Meiteis, Nagas, Kukis have very close relations in our history.

The Manipur kings protected the solidarity and unity of all tribes preserving the autonomy of the villages chiefs. The Manipur king was responsible for defence and economy of villages. He never interfered in the internal affaires of the villages. The king himself said : "I am the thread that makes the beautiful garland of different flowers of various colours of various tribes". The Manipur king used to sing " Chingna koina pansaba, haona koina panngakpa" .

The Tangkhuls, Marams, Chothes, Kabuis, Marings, Khongjais used to protect and used to give shelter to the kings and princes on many occasions. They fought many battles for the kings to protect the kingdom of Manipur from the enemy. This practice of unity in diversity as the unifying strength of Manipur is rarely visible in the history of other nations. This is the secret of having a Manipuri civilization lasting for more than 2000 years although other civilisations had collapsed before time. The Mughal empire lasted for only 332 years, Ahom kingdom -598 years, Mysore kingdom-548 years, Maratha kingdom 144 years, Hyderabad Nizam 224 years. But this proud history of Manipur has been relegated to an useless stuff by the Government of India .

India's history is the history of Mughal Empire or Maratha empire or Hyderabad Nizam or Mysore kingdom . Manipur history does not form even one page of Indian history. Rather , the Government of India had committed a series of blunders during 1947-1950 which are beyond the scope of International laws . G.K. Pillai, former Union Home Secretary said on 27 September, 2011 " we have to build trust by dealing with the core issues of Manipur . An apology , say by the Prime Minister or the Home Minister, for the past mistakes could be a start". Indirectly G.K. Pillai had made a wake up call to the Manipuris. But we failed to wake up to this wake up call . We feel that an apology is not sufficient. The Government of India has to correct the past blunders through constitutional amendments. The Government of India has to learn from Manipur history how to sustain a civilisation for more than 2000 years.

Today, Manipur is sitting on a volcano or ticking time bomb . Any time it may explode into a catastrophe for which the Government of India will be entirely responsible. We should ask ourselves - what may be the root cause of this conflict situation and is there a cure ? Now it is time for all Manipuris to listen to our hearts and to listen to this wake up call instead of indulging in symptomatic treatment of core issues.

Today, our Hon'ble Chief Minister also has to act in the same way like the Manipur king did to bring equality among all tribes in Manipur . I request our Hon'ble Chief Minister to take up some actions which will bring a permanent cure to our conflict situation and which will bring not only long lasting peace, prosperity and development of Manipur but also equality, communal harmony, social integrity , solidarity and unity of all ethnic groups in Manipur . Our Hon'ble Chief Minister is enjoying absolute majority in the house and he is a very effective leader of the house .He is therefore in a comfortable position to initiate some actions which will last for at least one hundred years.

That way, the people of Manipur will remember him as the " People's Chief Minister" . Recently the Organisation for Solidarity and Unity of North East India ( OSUNE-India, Manipur ) has submitted a memorandum to the Prime Minister , the President, the Home Minister, Madame Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi with copies to His Excellency, the Governor of Manipur, the Chief Minister of Manipur, the Deputy Chief Minister , Manipur with a request to initiate adequate actions for amendment of Article 371C of Indian Constitution. This we have done after wide consultation with many eminent persons including retired judges, Lawyers, Academicians, civil society representatives. The Indian Constitution may be perfect in many aspects but the article 371C is extremely discriminatory , harmful and dangerous to Manipur . We should try to bring equality , solidarity and unity among all ethnic groups of Manipur through amendment of the article 371C of Indian Constitution.

We have submitted seven demands , which are as follows :-

1.The whole state of Manipur should be declared as hill state.

2. All the ethnic groups in Manipur may be brought under one uniform Land Law

3. The Article 3 of Indian Constitution regarding alteration of state boundaries shall not apply to Manipur to protect the 2000 year old territorial integrity of Manipur and other smaller states

4. The rights , identity, customs , culture, traditions , religion , land , language, script , mineral resources of indigenous people of Manipur will be protected.

5. All indigenous religions of the Manipur may be recognized by the Government of India

6. The Manipuri script ( Meitei Mayek) should be included in the coins and currency bank notes

7. The Constitution of India may provide for establishment of an Upper House ( State Legislative Council ) with a minimum of 40 members with provision for 10 nominated members.

In addition, the Manipur State Assembly under the leadership of the Hon'ble Chief Minister and Hon'ble Speaker need to adopt a resolution for inclusion of the Meities under the Scheduled Tribe category of the Indian Constitution to bring equality among the tribes as demanded by the Scheduled Tribe Demand Committee, Manipur. Further , The Manipur State Cabinet has taken a decision on 12th July, 2012 to adopt the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation , 1873 ( Inner Lien Permit System) in Manipur . On 13th July, 2012, the Manipur State Assembly had also taken a resolution to implement the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation , 1873 ( Inner Line Permit System ) in Manipur .

The copy of the resolution was submitted to the Union Home , Minister , Government of India on 3rd August, 2012. The Manipur State Assembly may pursue the progress of action taken up so far by the Government of India in this direction. These nine proposals may be discussed and a resolution may be adopted to pursue these with the Government of India for bring lasting peace, prosperity and development of Manipur . These nine proposals will have curative effect to the long standing ethnic conflict in Manipur.

We have given proper justification for each of the nine proposals which have been published in prominent local English newspapers. The Government of India has offered amendment of Article 371A of Indian Constitution to NSCN-IM to satisfy some of their demands . Then why not we, Manipuris demand amendment of Article 371C of Indian Constitution to bring equality, communal harmony, social integrity , solidarity and unity of all ethnic groups in Manipur .

What we require is the will , determination and commitment of the Hon'ble Chief Minister, cabinet Ministers and learned MLAs to place these agenda before the Manipur State Assembly and to adopt a resolution to recommend it to the Hon'ble Prime Minister to place it before the Parliament. This is the agenda of the people. If we continue to follow the dictates of Government of India without questioning , we will be nowhere .

We should always remember that the Government of India has it own hidden agenda for encouraging us to fight. Now the hidden agenda is no more hidden as evident from so many instances during the last 15 years. This is a cause which is worth fighting for and worth dying for. Let us live together or die together .

* Dr. Khomdon Lisam wrote this article for Hueiyen Lanpao
This article was posted on February 20, 2013

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