TODAY -

MLR&R (7th Amendment) Bill 2015 impinges upon tribal rights: ATSUM
Source: Hueiyen News Service

Imphal, August 30 2015 : All Tribal Students' Union Manipur (ATSUM) has claimed that the proposed Manipur Land Revenue & Land Reform Act (7th Amendment Bill 2015) is a ploy to annul the existing Manipur Land Revenue & Land Reform Act 1960 under Section 158 .

In a statement ATSUM president Muan Tombing and general secretary Vareiyo Shatsang said that the union has submitted a memorandum to Governor Dr Syed Ahmed stating that the student body representing the whole tribal people of Manipur would like to bring forward its position and apprehension of the present movement for the introduction of Inner Line Permit System (ILPS) in Manipur being initiated by the Joint Committee on Inner Line Permit System (ILPS).

A Bill rechristened as 'The Protection of Manipur People Bill, 2015' is likely to be passed in the Manipur Legislative Assembly as its 40 members from the dominant Meitei Community are against 20 minority tribal members.

The proposed Bill is being drafted as per the wish and whims of the above mentioned Committee without any representation from the tribal Assembly Members, ATSUM claimed in the memorandum to the Governor.

The statement informed that historically, the Hill tribes in the present Manipur were never ruled by the Manipur Raja.

In fact, it was the British who brought the hill areas within the fold of Manipur and engaged with them indirectly through the British Political Agent.

Even after Manipur was annexed after the Palace Uprising (1891), the hill areas were not brought under the Raja, but kept under the President of Darbur, the post reserved for a British Officer.

Only after the Kuki Uprising (1917 � 1919), the British introduced new administrative arrangement for the hill areas by dividing into 4 (four) Sub � Divisions - each with a British Officer In - Charge stationed at the Sub � Divisional Headquarters.

Through the said system of administration it was changed from time-to-time, the separate administrative governance was continued even after the Manipur Merger Agreement was signed with the Government of India in 1949.In short the tribal people of Manipur are under separate administrative setup since British era and, much before the Indian Independence (1947) or the Merger Agreement of Manipur to the Union of India in 1949, ATSUM insisted.

When Manipur was about to be conferred statehood in 1972, there was an apprehension that the interest of the tribal would be at stake.

So, the Manipur (Hill Areas) District Council Act, 1971 was enacted by the Parliament to address the issue as a measure.

The Hill Areas of Manipur and its people are also protected by the Hill Areas Committee which is constitutionally envisaged under Article 371C of the Indian Constitution.

But as this Committee has no longer Legislative and Judiciary powers, it cannot function to its intended provision of safeguarding the interest of the tribal in the Hill Areas of Manipur, the tribal student body added in the memorandum.

"Given the background of the tribal people, who are being marginalized in their ancestral homeland due to absence and lack of political autonomy to safeguard their interest like other people in the Northeast India, we would like to state that the demands for Inner Line Permit System (ILPS) and Scheduled Tribe (ST) status for the already advanced Meitei community, declaration of the whole of Manipur as 'Hill State/Tribal State' and extension of Manipur Land Revenue & Land Reform Act (1960) to the whole State of Manipur are all ambiguous and not appropriate at all," it said.

Furthermore, all these demands are designed with an intention to make all the above mentioned issues interlinked as to empower the dominant community against the interest of the minority tribals, the union said.

"We would also like to point out here that, the tribal of Manipur and its mandated Civil Societies (Students, Youth, Women, Chiefs and the Apex Bodies) are not at all consulted by the JCILPS before launching their intensive movement.

The State Cabinet also did not have the courtesy to consult the Hill Areas Committee even though the issue is very much relevant to the hill-tribal people as it is for the plain people of Manipur," it added.

It said the student wing of the JCILPS also does not have the courtesy of at least informing the ATSUM of their involvement in the movement.

ATSUM is pained to the heart to silently see the closure of all educational institutions of Manipur for the last almost 2 months.

"We are saying this not just because hundreds of tribal students are affected but the reckless and wanton display of the JCILPS has done colossal damage to the student community which in fact, is a violation of the Right to Education Act 2009," the union further said.

As the tribals are nowhere involved in the proposed ILPS, even if it is passed by the Manipur Legislative Assembly, it should cover Valley Areas only as it is being proposed and propagated by the Meiteis of the valley.

The tribal people also feel the demand for the ILPS and its enforcement in the entire State of Manipur, which is aimed at having a uniform law for both Valley and Hills is a ploy designed to serve the interest of a particular community, ATSUM said.

It claimed that the enforcement of ILPS will certainly pave way for marginalization of the hill tribals and alienation from their ancestral land.

Advocating certain indigenous tribal people of Manipur as outsiders/foreigners by the propagators of the movement is a living example of this assertion.

The proposed Manipur Land Revenue & Land Reform Act (seventh Amendment Bill 2015) is a ploy to annul the existing Manipur Land Revenue & Land Reform Act 1960 under Section 158, which requires the Deputy Commissioner to first secure the consent of the Autonomous District Council members within whose jurisdiction the land lies for transfer/purchase of land belonging to tribalsa and to non-tribals, the union said, adding that for these reasons, the proposed bill was drafted specifically under Section 14A (1 � 5).Once this bill is enacted then Section 14A (1 � 5) of the bill would be fully implemented in toto, whereas, the existing Section 158 of the Principal Act will be purposely ignored/overlooked.

(Enclosed - Part V, Chapter XIII of the Principal Act (MLR & LR), 1960, Section 158), the union said.

"We, therefore, request your good office not to give your assent to the Bill likely to be passed by the Manipur Legislative Assembly in the immediate future as the same is going to impede on the rights and privileges of the tribal people of Manipur," it said.

It added the peoples' government succumbing to the violent protest and pressure tactics employed by the Meiteis under the JCILPS will also definitely send a wrong and negative signal to the peoples of the State and country.

The consent and approval of the Hill Areas Committee (HAC) may also be sought as the same is very much related to the welfare of the Hill Areas of the state.

This representation is therefore placed before your goodself to make an official executive order so as to implement the power and function of the HAC independently as per Article 371C and to exercise your discretion in the spirit of Article 371(2); 371A [1(b)]; 371C (1) and 371F (g) to secure the proper functioning of the Hill Areas Committee which will go a long way in strengthening the interest of the State, ATSUM urged.


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