TODAY -

Land survey is direct affront to hill people, says ATSUM
Source: The Sangai Express / Newmai News Network

Imphal, April 29 2023: The All Tribal Students' Union, Manipur (ATSUM) has said that the "civil unrest and violence" which erupted on Friday in Churachandpur was a throwback to the infamous three Bills that fuelled the "tribal uprising" in August 2016 .

ATSUM, in a statement issued today, also said that the "violent street protest" was not a spontaneous phenomenon but an outburst of growing dissent against the "adverse and regressive policies" of the Government of Manipur.

According to the student body, the forest and land survey, with an objective of evicting villages in the survey areas, is a direct affront to tribal hill people.

The student body also said that surveys of the forest areas in the hills of Manipur that are supposedly "reserved forests/protected forests/wildlife sanctuaries" have drawn lots of flak from "tribal communities because there were procedural lapses when these forests were declared as such" .

It alleged that many of these reserved forests were declared by the Government without the consent and knowledge of the local villagers.

"The Hill Areas Committee of the Manipur Legis- lative Assembly, on 11th March 2021 had also resolved that these reserved forest/protected forest/ wild life sanctuaries shall not be enforced by the departments without the approval of the Hill Areas Committee.

And yet the Government has not properly implemented this recommendation," the ATSUM added.

According to the tribal student body, the "State Government's high-handed-ness" towards the tribals and "insensitive handling" of the situation had also led to this current violence and protest in Churachandpur.

"Despatching commando forces from neighbouring districts to suppress the protesters and to stifle the voice of dissent had also aggravated the situation," it claimed and accused the Government of angering the public beyond control instead of trying to calm them.

The approach of the Government is unfortunate and condemnable because as many as 25 people have been injured including two persons who are in critical condition," ATSUM claimed.

The ATSUM also said it "takes a strong exception to the rhetoric of some valley based civil organisations" such as WMC and KKL and asked them to refrain from playing divisive policies among the tribal communities.

Saying that the majority of the tribal people understand the diabolical agenda of these organisations and as such their efforts to disintegrate the tribal communities will be futile, ATSUM said that valley based organisations are further alienating the tribal hill people from the valley people in the pursuit of Scheduled Tribe (ST) status.

The tribal student body then said that the news report of a particular media house "in which the protesters in Churachandpur were alleged to be speaking in Myanmarese language, then and there, branding the protesters as illegal immigrants is outrageous" .


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