Clearing the Apprehensions of the JACATB and ZC vis-a-vis the Movement for Inner Line Permit System in Manipur till 2015

838
0

By Homen Thangjam, Shukhdeba Sharma Hanjabam, Aheibam Koireng Singh

I. Joint Action Committee on Anti-Tribal Bills

Joint Action Committee on anti-Tribal Bills (JACATB) is body representing the interest of the CHIKUMI (Chin-Kuki-Mizo or otherwise Zomi peoples) residing in Manipur. It does not represent the interest and rights of other tribals in Manipur such as the Nagas, Kabuis and other smaller tribes which does not fall within the category of the Nagas and CHIKUMI. JACATB was formed by Kuki Innpi Churachandpur, Hmar Innpui, Zomi Council, Mizo People’ Convention, Manipur and Joint Philanthropic Organisations, Joint Women’ Association and various tribal student bodies in Churachandpur on September 2, 2015. At present, JACATB has representation from Hmar Inpui, Kuki Inpi Churachandpur, Mizo People’s Convention Manipur, Kuki Inpi Manipur, Zomi Council, Hmar Students’ Association, Kuki Students’ Organization, Hmar Youth Association, Kuki Khonglai Lawmpi, Young Mizo Association, Zomi Youth Association, Mizo Zirlai Pawi, Thadou Kuki Students’ Union, Zomi Students’ Federation, Hmar Women Union, Kuki Women Human Rights Organization, Mizo Peoples Council/Women Wing and Zomi Mothers’ Association. H. Mangchinkhup is the Chief Convener of JACATB and Lalkhohao Chongloi is the Convener (Administration).

JACATB and its Activities: 1) Since 31st Aug, 2015 till date, to control violent activities; 2) Declared the 9(nine) death as TRIBAL MARTYRS; 3) Fasting Prayer by hundreds of Pastors, Reverend and Elders from all denominations in the District; 4) Uninterrupted Sit-in-Protest (dharna) by women-folks in different localities; 5) Organise the largest ever Torch-Rally in Manipur by about 20000 people; 6) The longest Human-chain (about 12kms from Kangvai to Lamka town) and signature campaigns; 7) Pressured the two umbrella tribal armed groups under SoO (KNO and UPF) to stand united and demand for a ‘Separate administration’ for the tribal in Manipur; 8) Lobbying with all like-minded organisations within and outside the country; 9) Petitioned the Hon’ble President of India, Hon’ble Prime Minister of India, Hon’ble Union Home Minister, and Hon’ble Governor of Manipur to immediately redress the plights of Manipur tribal within the Constitutional provisions of the country; 10) Demand for immediate repeal or withdrawal of the three Bills 11) Demand, the State Government to convene a Special Assembly within September 2015 and pass another Bill for exclusion of areas under the Six Autonomous District Councils of Manipur including pockets of land amalgamated with valley District, without the knowledge and consent of the tribal, from the three antitribal Bills; 12) For a better administration and durable peace and development, the Government must create a “Separate political Administration” for the tribals outside the State Government. Towards this objective, political talks with UPF and KNO should be expedited immediately; 13) Supported ATSUM’s ultimatum to all Hill MLAs to resign on or before September 30, 2015; 14) Respectable and historic Christian burial programme will be performed shortly in consultation with the victims’ families; 15) Constitute an enquiry on the firing and killing of innocent tribal by State Security Forces.

Memorandums Submitted

JACATB has submitted 4(five) memorandums so far to air its grievances. But it withdrew the memorandum submitted to the Chief Minister of Manipur on September 3, 2015. Thereafter, the first memorandum to be submitted was to the President of India on September 6, 2015. Second memorandum was submitted to the Prime Minister of India (Requesting for separate political administration for the tribals of Manipur State and speed up political dialogue with SoO (suspension of operation) groups viz. KNO and UPF at the earliest) on September 7, 2015. The third memorandum was submitted to the Union Home Minister of India (Requesting Immediate Intervention to redress the grievances of the tribals of Manipur State) on September 8, 2015. The fourth and final memorandum was submitted to the Governor of Manipur (requesting intervention) on September 9, 2015. This was followed by series of press handouts (notably on September 22, 2015 after an Observer headed by Shri. Ashok Prasad, IPS, the Secretary (Internal Security), Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India visited Manipur).

Contents of the memorandums are more or less the same. Right from the beginning of its protest, JACC has not articulated specific or clause by clause objection against the contents of the 3(three) bills. In fact, it parroted the line taken up by other organizations/bodies such as ATSUM only on September 22, 2015 in its Press Handout (it shall be dealt with in subsequent sections). Although JCILP is solely devoted to the implementation of the 3(three) bills, we feel it is our moral responsibility to answer to the allegations levelled by JACC to straighten out certain issues for record. The allegations/pleas of the three memorandums mentioned above are summarized below with comments of the authors.

JACATB: Reaction of the tribals to the Bills passed by the Manipur State Assembly on August 31, 2015 signifies the deep division between the tribals in the hills and the non-tribals in the valley.

AUTHORS: This claim is invalid. Historically the chasm has been between the tribals in the hills of Manipur. Hmar-Kuki Clash of 1960 is a grim reminder. Further, in 1992 and the years that followed ethnic conflict took place between the Nagas and Kukis (historical enemies) killing of more than 1500 tribals. NSCN-IM termed the Kukis as “foreigners”. According to Th. Muivah “Our men went and attacked their (sic. Kuki National Army) army camp near the Burmese side of Chandel because they started forcing the Nagas to leave their respective homes and villages. If the foreigners start driving the indigenous Naga people, we could not remain silent” (Th. Muivah in his interview with Deepak Dewan in Bangkok, Thailand, Appeared in the North East Sun, August 1-14, 1998). In 1997-1998, there was conflict between the Thadou Kuki and Paite Zomi on the issue of nomenclature. In all these instances the valley people provided shelter and support to the victims of the conflicts. The reaction that erupted in Churchandpur against the 3(three) bills are not a manifestation of deep division between the tribals in the hills and the non-tribals in the valley. But it was on account of the presence of thousands of non-native population who control the district politically and economically.

JACATB: Tribals in Manipur, a minority community, have been subjugated and neglected by the majority people for ages. The four valley districts in Manipur are among the most advanced districts in the entire North East India. The six autonomous districts are within the bottom ten most underdeveloped districts in the region. Tribals are voiceless and hapless since they are outnumbered both within and outside the State Assembly (the ratio of tribal to non-tribal MLAs in the State Assembly is 20:40)

AUTHORS: There is no evidence to prove this. Presence of more than 500 tribal villages/localities in the Imphal valley is testimony to this fact. None has been harassed even during the times of “extension of cease-fire agreement” to Manipur in 2001. The allegations that the valley people have snatched away the shares of the tribal, and that the tribals are subjugated are misplaced. First of all, the armed groups based in the hills of Manipur, which have either entered into Suspension of Operation with the Government or the ones which have entered into peace-talks are equally responsible for the underdevelopment in the hills. First, as strategies they have forbidden any developmental work, particularly laying down of roads which will facilitate movement of security forces. Second, for the purpose of propaganda they have wilfully created a base of cadres of activists who noisily complain about the underdevelopment of the hill areas as a result of exploitation by the Meiteis. As a result, the outfits have successfully propagated that the hill people are not treated as citizens by the Manipur Government.

But what the outfits and their frontal organizations have not informed to the people is that development funds, either for valley or the hills, are being eaten up by the local leaders in collusion with the people in power (state and non-state). Common people in the valley and hills are not involved. So it will be wrong to blame a particular community, say for example the Meiteis (majority), for the woes of a particular area. An examination of the Department of Tribal Affairs reveals that the Minister concerned has always been a tribal. Moreover, there are times when even the Chief Minister is a tribal (Rishang Keishing and Y. Saiza are outstanding example). During such times one neither witnesses any development in the hill areas nor complains about the deficit. Here it is worthwhile to remember what Honourable MP Thangso Baite remarked on January 18, 2013. He said, “Till date, the post of Tribal Development Minister has always been held by tribal. No Meetei has ever held the post. Under such a condition it would be wrong to blame the Meeteis settling in the valley of snatching away the shares of the tribal. We should not blame others for the faults we have committed”.

As far as tribal development is concerned, it is surprising to note that Manipur is one amongst the states in India with adequate/excess funding (budget allocations) for the same. The table given below is self-explanatory.

Year ST Population % State Plan Outlay (Rs. in Crores) Flow to Tribal Sub-Plan (TSP: Rs. in Crores) % of TSP Annual Plan
2008- 09 34.2 16660.00 731.73 44.10
2009-10 34.2 2000.00 741.15 37.1
2010-11 34.2 2600.00 1017.50 39.1
2011-12 34.2 3210.00 1168.37 36.4

Source: Annual Reports, Ministry of Tribal Affairs, Government of India, 2012.

Besides, there has always been complains of concentrating development in the valley areas as a way of discriminating the people in the hills. But, it is interesting to note that, when the Indira Gandhi National Tribal University, Regional Campus Manipur was proposed to be set up in Manipur, the tribal civil society bodies, academicians, politicians and advisors settled the location of the University at plain area. Officially, the area belongs to Senapati but it is just about 20-25 km from Imphal. None of the tribal activists complained about it. Similarly, it is the United Naga Council who give the permission to extract oil from Tamenglong while the non-tribals from the valley are the ones who is leading the movement against the extraction of natural resources. It is unfortunate that only the tribal civil societies, which areas are going to be affected, are involved in the protest.

If we examine the present administrative set up of Manipur, it will not be wrong to call a Manipur a ‘Tribal Administered State’ as most of the high profile administrators or decision makers are from the tribal community. For instance, both the Additional Chief Secretary are from the tribal community. Out of the eight Principal Secretaries, three belong to tribal community while one is a Meiteis and the rest is from outside the state. Similarly, out of the 14 Commissioners, six belong to tribal community, five are Meiteis and the rest is from outside the state. Moreover, nine out of 16 senior police officers are listed from tribal communities. This set up does not include the 20 elected members (MLA) from the tribal community who also constitute the Hills Area Committee (HAC) which looks exclusively for the welfare of the hill areas. This also does not include the one Member of Parliament from the tribal community (out of three MPs).

This set-up simply negates the ill-founded complains against the Meiteis. Then, the issue is why is the tribal areas not developed when ample amount of money is pumped in and when such a huge number of tribal administrators are involved in the state administration. Now, it is high time the Government comes up with a “white paper” on tribal development in order to clear up the misinformation and confusion. The allegation that Tribals are voiceless and hapless since they are outnumbered both within and outside the State Assembly (the ratio of tribal to non-tribal MLAs in the State Assembly is 20:40) is incredible. The ratio 1:2 is based on population criteria (what is known as proportional representation followed throughout India). But what needs to be acknowledged is the grim reality of denying the valley population from contesting elections in the Outer Manipur Parliamentary Constituency (for Lok Sabha Elections) in place since Manipur became a part of India.

JACATB: To address the administratively-deficit situation, institute a “Separate Political Administration” for the tribals outside the Government of Manipur.

AUTHORS: This demand has communal overtone and politically motivated and another ploy to subjugate the already subjugated majority.

JACATB: Towards this objective expedite political dialogue with tribal groups (KNO and UPF) who are already under SoO with the Government

AUTHORS: Manipur has more than 33 underground armed groups Just imagine the scenario when each one of them starts demanding autonomy or a “Separate Political Administration” for each tribe! What does peace accord and political dialogue hold for the common people.

JACATB: The only resource the tribals own i.e. land, is constantly under threat by the Covert and overt anti-tribal policy of the State Government (eg. Manipur Land Revenue and Land reform Act 1960, etc.)

AUTHORS : Imagine running a Government without mobilization of resources in terms of land and resources. This does not mean agricultural land should be exploited in the name of development. On a more serious note, tribals are losing land to military establishments and developmental projects not on account of extension of MLR&LR Act.

JACATB: Unlike the valley based armed groups who are secessionist, most of the tribal movements today, as in the past, are for improvement of the existing socio-political set up based within the Indian Constitution

AUTHORS: Does it mean the tribal UGs do not collect illegal taxes, practice extortion and commit crimes? Is one defending the existence UGs simply because they demand something within the purview of the Indian Constitution?

On the Bills

As mentioned above, the position of JACATB on the 3(three) bills was stated (in a passing manner) in its Press Handout only on September 22, 2015. According to JACATB:

  • These are not ‘Money Bills’ in spite of the claims of the Government of Manipur.
  • The bills do not give ‘exceptional clause’ to prevent infringement on tribal rights and deliberately by-pass the provisions under Art. 371C of the Constitution
  • The terms ‘native people’ are not defined in the bills
  • The three criteria to qualify as ‘People of Manipur’ takes 1951 as base year, thereby making all ‘non-Manipur people’ of India a ‘Foreigner’ in the State

JACATB goes on to allege that the spirit, content, preamble, objectives and reasons of the Bills explicitly show the “deliberate intension of the Government to infringe on the rights and privileges of the Tribal in Manipur as well as non-tribal from outside the State.”

II. Zomi Council

ZOMI COUNCIL (ZC) is the Apex body of the Paite Tribe Council, United Zou Organization, Vaiphei People’s Council, Tedim Chin Union, Simte Tribe Council, Gangte Tribe Council, Kom Union, Manipur, Mate Tribe Council and Thangkhal People’s Organisation. ZC (Headquarters) submitted a representation to the Governor of Manipur on August 31, 2015 expressing apprehension to the proposed Protection of Manipur Peoples Bill and others introduced and passed in the special session of the Manipur Legislative Assembly on the 31st August, 2015. In the following sections the authors give a point by point clarification in the interest of the people of Manipur. This section also can be taken as a reply to the allegations raised by the ALL TRIBAL STUDENTS’ UNION MANIPUR in its memorandum submitted to the President of India on September 6, 2015. (Memorandum for immediate creation of a Union Territory under Article 239 and 239A of the Constitution of India for the tribal peoples of Outer Manipur State).

ZC: Since the British Raj, the Tribals/Hill Peoples of Manipur who had settled and occupied the hills of Manipur were independent. The British were never involved nor interfered in the administration of the Village Chiefs. The Tribal Hills Chiefs were independent. They have never been under the suzerainty of the British Raj. Moreover, no subjugation was made nor no taxes was paid as an allegiance to the Maharaja of Manipur even during the reign Manipur Raja. To consolidate and amend the law governing the administration of the State Hill Peoples, the Manipur State Hills Peoples (Administration) Regulation, 1947 was enacted. This enactment had clearly indicated that the Hills of Manipur had a separate set of administration, even the Justice system where both civil and criminal jurisdiction were provided by the Regulation. To augment the circumstances encompassing the Tribals/ Hill Peoples of Manipur and to establish Village Authorities in Villages of the Hills, the Manipur Village Authority (Hill Areas) Act, 1956 was enacted by the Parliament.

ZC: There exists parallel administration in the hills and valleys of Manipur. The tribal areas administered by Article 371C (a special provision for hill areas of Manipur) and Autonomous District Council (under District Council Act, 1971) as a local self-government institution. However, Autonomous District Council is a non-autonomous body which practically functions under the mercy of the Tribal and Hills Department of the State Government

AUTHORS : It would be absurd to start the history of Manipur fromthe British Raj. Our memory cannot be this short! To begin with, in ancient Manipur the size of the empire was not constant it was mainly depended on the capacity of the ruler. The work of consolidation of his kingdom occupied the most important one for the ruler. Consolidation of hill village began during the reign of Iwanthaba (1163–1195) [R.K. Jhalajit Singh, A Short History of Manipur, Imphal, 1965, p. 63].

To assert Meitei suzerainty over the tribal villages in the hills, Mungyamba sent out several military expeditions towards various tribal villages. He also captured many tribal chiefs of the villages of southern and south eastern hills. [Gangmumei Kamei, History of Manipur, vol. I. Pre-Colonial Period, New Delhi: National Publishing House, 1991, pp. 205-06].  According to Gangmumei Kamei, “Khagemba also strengthened the internal political control over the hill tribes and villages in the hill areas of the Kingdom”.[ Ibid., 210]. Paikhomba took up a minor expedition over the tribal villages in eastern hills inhabited by the Tangkhuls, Anal, Mayons, and Lamkang. The Maram in the north, Sakang and Nungkong in the south. [Ibid., 227]. King Bhagyachandra (1763–1762) also paid his attention towards the hill tribes of Manipur. The subjugation of hill tribes residing inside the present boundary of Manipur started in a major way during Maharaja Gambhir Singh’s (1826–1834) time. Gambhir Singh and his Manipur and Kuki levies (aided by the British) were forces to be reckoned, which undertook military expeditions such as the Naga Expedition and Lushai Expedition. Maharaja Nara Singh (1844-1850) and Maharaja Chandrakirti (1850–86) further consolidated the power and authority of Manipur. Thus, all the people inside the boundary of Manipur were under the control of the Maharaja of Manipur and later under the control of British. It was compulsory for hill tribes to pay taxes to the Maharaja (Rs. 2(two) for example or kind) and later on to the British (in cash).

Apart from conquest and subjugation of the hill tribesmen, what is noteworthy was the introduction of ‘Lallup’ system throughout Manipur [Lallup was a group of people organized for the purpose of war or battle to defend the state. During peace time, these people are engaged in public works.].According to the royal chronicles of ancient Manipur Lallup was imposed in the valley as well as in the hill villages of Manipur. It was to symbolise the direct control by the king. For instance, during the Burmese invasion in 1723, 4000 (four thousand) hill tribesmen joined the Manipuri forces under the command of the king. It is said that Loiyamba Sillen also laid a decree to render a tribute by the tribes who were under the suzerainty of the king. “The tribute was mainly in the form of mineral resources like salt, lime, iron, gold, etc., produced in the particular area”. [N. Ibobi Singh, The Manipur Administration (1909-1907) Irnphal, 1976, p. 153]. Further, the festival of Mera Haochongba, encapsulated(s) world of Manipur in which hill natives of Manipur in genial amity ‘freely participated in events (of history) as lived experiences, free showmanship in events (of history) as collective memory;’ and thereby ‘helped in re-exalting the idea of nationhood and rekindling a heightened sense of patriotism in the unlettered, uninformed and un-imaginative public mindset of yore’.[ [A. Kamson, “The Mera Haochongba Festival – The traditional hill-valley interface: The carnival of Manipur”, In H. Dwijasekhar Sharma, ed. New insights into the glorious heritage of Manipur Vol. 1, pp. 131–98, New Delhi: Akansa Publishing House, 2009, p. 131.] Thus, the festival symbolizes a productive forum of producing a semblance of stability in the Kingdom among its populace. According to Kamson, Mera Haochongba, implies two things [Ibid., p. 140]:

  1. First, it was resorted to as an administrative-cum ritualistic practice quite regularly on a fixed day of the year in the two-millennium long history of Manipur except during the British regime… In the process it has helped bring to effervescence the cultural achievements shared by both the brethrens of the hills and the plains… a kind of reciprocal love and an ultimate mutual respect for each other.
  2. Second, it also means that both have suffered together ‘the birth pangs of the past and many an ordeal of survival sharing a common destiny against heavy odds’…. In that moment of bliss, ecstasy,

togetherness and semi-divine happiness participants hardly find their different languages or any other antecedent a barrier Moreover, it relates to notion of an innate and symbiotic cultural ties among various natives invariably expressed through the medium of festival and charactierised by secularism.

The Anglo Manipur war of 1891 brought about tremendous changes in the history of Manipur. It marked the end of independent status losing sovereignty of Manipur. On 27 April 1891 administration of Manipur was in the hands of General Collett under him Major Maxwell was appointed as the Chief Political Officer. But soon be was authorized to discharge both civil and political duties in the state. The administrative power permitted by the British to the native ruler was only nominal. All civil and political-powers were directly administered by the British officer. It was during the period of 1891-1907 when hill peoples were administered by irresponsible and illiterate Lambus and Kompaks, official representatives of the Manipur king, sent to collect taxes from the hill areas. Iboongohal Singh states, “It was an open secret in those days that Lambus and Kompaks oppressed the innocent hill people in order to extract money from them.”[ L. Iboongohal Singh, Introduction to Manipur, Imphal, 1963, p. 164].

In 1907 the Manipur State Durbar was established. It consisted of the Raja as the President, who was only the nominal head. The Vice-President of the Durbar was an English Officer. Thus the state was permitted to re-establish native rule under the I.C.S. Officer who was directly responsible for administration of the state. Besides, the British officer seven other Manipuri members were also appointed to look after the state.[Chingkhei Chinglen, History of Manipur,Imphal. Golden Publications, 1991. p. 24].  Different portfolios were assigned to the Manipuri members. Whereas the President of the Durbar held the charge of education, medical and state police, the Vice-President of the Durbar was given the charge of administration of the hill tribes, finance and state revenue. Moreover, foreign affairs, post and telegraph, etc. were also in the hand of the Vice President.[Lal Dena (ed.), History of Modern Manipur: 1826-1949, New Delhi, Orbit publishers and Distributors, 1991, p. 80].

Subsequently, British negated the both the Lallup system and Mera Haochongba festival in its being “pastness” (thus primitive) and as wasteful expenditure. Banning the festival could serve the purpose of de-linking the organic ties people in the two geographies shared, all the more severe allegiance to the Manipur sovereign power, nullify native hegemony and finally, forge loyalty towards them.[Homen Thangjam, “Colonial Ethnicization: The Manipur Experience”, in Arambam Noni & Kangujam Sanatomba (eds.), Colonialism and Resistance, New Delhi: Routledge, 2015

For obvious reasons the British were keen to keep the hill administration under the exclusive charge of the President, Manipur State Durbar, i.e. away from the control of the Manipur administration represented by the king in Durbar.[ Ibid., p. 141]. In 1892, at the time of British takeover of Manipur, Major Maxwell proclaimed that the hill tribes were henceforth to be ‘treated as on a footing as distinct from His Highness’ subjects, being only “dependent on” the Manipur State’.[ Quoted in Kamson 2009, p. 173.] This hastened process of ethnicization and widen the gap between natives of the hills and valley in Manipur as we witness today.

The outbreak of the Kuki Rebellion (1919-1920) introduced still more far reaching changes in the administration of the hills. The most significant result of the rebellion was the overall re-organisation of the administration. W. A. Cosgrave, the political agent was of the view that “the whole administration of the hill tracts should be handed over to the exclusive management of the political agent”[ Op.cit., Lal Dena 1991, p. 132.]

The Chief Commissioner of Assam preferred to place the hill tribes under the government of the Maharaja.

However, in all things connected with the hill men, the Maharaja was to be guided by the advice of the political agent. He further suggested to the Viceroy to establish British Sub-divisional Officers at suitable places in the hills. In October 1919, Sir Nicholas Dodds Beatson Bell, Chief Commissioner of Assam visited the state. In an open Durbar he declared the decision of India to grant the state financial concession to carry out the scheme for the better administration of the hill people. Under the new scheme three subdivisions were formed – Churachandpur, Tamenglong and Ukhrul. Each sub-divisions was place under the charge of the European Sub-divisional officer who was directly accountable to the president of the Durbar. [Ibid., p. 134]. For smooth functioning of the administration of the hill areas, in 1920 the hill administration was separated from plain.[N. Basanta, Socio-Economic Change in Manipur(1891-1947) Imphal, 1919, pp. 85-86].

Separation of plains and hills administration continued till the lapse of British paramountcy in 1947. So what we have today, is the British legacy of divide and rule. But this does not mean the hills were separate entities in Manipur. The enactment of Manipur State Hills Peoples (Administration) Regulation, 1947 was for decentralizing the administration in the interior hill areas of Manipur[Dr. T.S. Gangte, “Exclusive ‘Naga Inhabited Area’ – Non-Existent”, Imphal Times, Imphal, September 13-14, 2015].

Table 1: Number of Villages and Tribal Ethnic Groups under the Regulation*

Sl. No. Name of Circle No. of Circles Name of Tribe & No. of villages
Ethnic tribes Kukis Others Total
I. Sadar Circles :          
  (a) Sadar Circle No.1 (Central) 3(three) circles 1.          Kabui – 50

2.    Tangkhul – 11

3.  Kacha Naga – 4

     
      65 68 42 175
  (b) Sadar Circle No.2 (Mao Circle)   Mao – 56 27 Nil 83
  (c) Sadar Circle No.3 (New Churachandpur)   Nil – – 149 25 174
             
II. Ukhrul Circles :          
  (a) Ukhrul Circle No.1 (Ukhrul)   Tangkhul – 79 29 Nil 108
  (b) Ukhrul Circle No.2 Ukhrul East Sub-Divn. (Phaisat Circle) 3(three) circles Tangkhul – 39 30 1 70
  (c) Ukhrul Circle No.3 (Tengnoupal & Mombi)   Nil 135 21 164
             
III. Tamenglong Circles :          
  (a) Tamenglong Circle No.1 (Headquarters)   Kabui – 60 53 2 115
  (b) Tamenglong Circle No.2 (North Circle) West Sub-Divn. 3(three) circles 1.      Liangmei – 50

2.            Zemei – 9

3.           Kabui – 14

     
      60 58 2 120
  (c) Tamenglong Circle No.3 (Southern Circle)   Nil 62 Nil 62
    Total : 359 611 103 1073

Note: * refers to the Manipur State Hill Peoples (Administration) Regulation, 1947

Source: Dr. T.S. Gangte, “Exclusive ‘Naga Inhabited Area’ – Non-Existent”, Imphal Times, Imphal, September 13-14, 2015.

Table 2: Total number of villages in the entire hill areas of Manipur, 1947

1. Sadar Circles :            
  (a) Naga – 121 (b) Kuki – 244 (c) Others – 67 = 432
2. Ukhrul Circles            
  (a) Naga – 118 (b) Kuki – 194 (c) Others – 32 = 344
3. Tamenglong Circles          
  (a) Naga – 120 (b) Kuki – 173 (c) Others – 4 = 297
  Grand Total: 359   611   103   1037


Source:
Same as above.

According to T.S. Gangte, “When the people of India gave themselves Constitution of India with the status of a Republic on the 26th January, 1950 the above Regulation, 1947 stood abrogated, with it, changes took place. Yet, the above equation of villages remain more or less intact and stable, if not radically disturbed, but for population growth and increase in number of villages” [Ibid.]. In fact, with the enactment of the Manipur (Village Authorities in Hill Areas) Act, 1956 that came force on April 18, 1957, the Manipur State Hills Peoples (Administration) Regulation, 1947 was repealed. The Manipur (Village Authorities in Hill Areas) Act, 1956 extended to the whole of the hill areas of the Union territory of Manipur as the Chief Commissioner may, by notification in the Official Gazette, declare to be hill areas. In other words, the Village authority did/does not function as separate administrative bodies but as appendages to the Government of Manipur. The same applies to the Hill Areas Committee (HAC) of the Manipur Legislative Assembly which is empowered by the constitution to monitor the law making and the administration for the hill areas. However, the regulation as well as HAC do not provide a separate political entity to the hills of Manipur. One also needs to read “The Manipur Hill Areas Acquisition of the Chiefs Right Acts, 1967” and “District Council Act 1971” to have a proper understanding of the administration of hill areas in Manipur. Lastly, it is worth recalling one of the toponomy aspects to ascertain how much the hill areas were part of Manipur. Take for instance, the present Churchandpur District was named in 1921 by Mr. B.C. Gasper, the SDO of Songpi, who threw a feast in honour of the France returnees. On that occasion Songpi was renamed to Churachandpur after the name of Maharaja Churachand who also took part in the feast.

ZC: The above cited facts and circumstances had recognized the Hills/Tribal Peoples of Manipur, irrespective of whether one had got registered under the National Register of Citizens, 1951.

AUTHORS: Administration is different from rules pertaining to citizenship. The issue here is not about the absence of administration for hill areas but if the “citizens” in the hill areas are indeed citizens of India or Manipur and whether they had registered themselves to receive the benefits of administration. What can be discerned from Table 1 and Table 2 is that there are records pertaining to villages/villagers of the hill areas in Manipur way back to 1947.

On the Bills

ZC: Ostensibly the Inner Line Permit System is to control the influx of outsiders into Manipur. The Bill introduced in the Special Session of Manipur Assembly in response to the demand of the Joint Committee on Inner Line Permit System (JCILPS) makes it crystal clear. ILP is apparently about outsiders but the hidden agenda is that it is against the native tribal/hill populace of the State.

AUTHORS: This allegation is not true. There are no hidden agenda. The spirit of JCILPS is to save Manipur from the influx of outsiders (including natives of Mizoram, natives of Myanmar, Bangladesh, Bihar, Nepal, Assam and others).

ZC: Outsiders are never really a threat because they cannot own land anyways in the valley area and never a competitors in the government Job market. The tribal people can own land in the valley area and are, therefore, a threat and a nuisance to the valley people. Moreover, the valley people wanted to grab the land of the tribals in the hill areas.

AUTHORS: Outsiders are indeed a threat. They are owning land not only in the valley areas but also snatching away/illegally occupying land in the hill areas. Also, outsiders occupy a large number of

Government jobs as well as they have become a major workforce in the unorganized and trade and business sector. There are more than 300 tribal villages in the valley areas, which the valley people

consider as their own brethren. Valley people does not eye the hill land/areas. The only concern is they need cooperation of the hill people to save land and resources of Manipur together.

ZC: Clause 2(b) of the Manipur People Bill 2015 define’ Manipur People” as “Persons of Manipur whose names are in the National Register of Citizens 1951, Census Report 1951 and Village Directory of 1951 and their descendants who have contributed collective social, cultural and economic life of Manipur”. This definition of Manipur People has so many implications. In the first place, to be considered as Manipur People, you or your fore fathers will have to be registered in three registers (i) National Register of Citizens 1951; (ii) Census Report 1951 and (iii) Village Directory 1951. Here notice the used of the word ‘and’. This means that even if you or your forefathers had been registered in anyone or any two of the above mentioned register, you will not be considered as Manipur People. You have to fulfil all three criteria. Many people will be left out because at that time the government machinery would not have reached every nook and corner of the State, especially the hill areas and most of the village are non-motorable at that time. This clause is against the provisions of the Citizenship Act of 1955.

AUTHORS : Points raised in this section carry merit. The word “and” was an intentional insertion by the Government of Manipur to sabotage the passing/approval of the Bills. Drafting Committee of JCILPS used the word “or” in its draft versions for the 3(three) criteria. The over sight can be corrected. It needed to be worked out together.

However, to allege that at that time the government machinery would not have reached every nook and corner of the State, especially the hill areas as most of the village were non-motorable is beyond justification. Table 1 is a notable illustration of ability of the Government to reach “anywhere”. Moreover, Village Directory was maintained under Manipur State Hill Peoples (Administration) Regulation, 1947 (for the purpose of house tax), a function later on taken up by the Village Authority from 1951.

Under Article 57 (1) of the The Manipur (Village Authority in Hill Areas) Act, 1956, “The Chief Commissioner was empowered, by notification in the Official Gazette, make rules for carrying out the purposes of this Act.” Article 57 (2) stipulates the matters for the rule making powers of the Chief Commissioner namely: a) The preparation, revision and final publication of electoral rolls for election of members of a Village Authority and the particulars to be entered in such rolls; b) the preliminary publication of electoral rolls in the village to which they relate; c) the manner in which and the time within which claims and objections as to entries in electoral rolls may be preferred and the authority

by whom such claims and objections may be decided; d) (g) the registers and records to be maintained and the returns to be submitted by Village Authorities and village courts and the particulars to be entered in such registers, records and returns There were a total of 725 village authorities constituted under the Manipur Village Authority (in Hill Areas) Act, 1956, in seven areas of the hills.

ZC: Why was the cut off year 1951 and not 1971 or 1981? Manipur attained statehood in 1972. If this definition is applied then most of the natives of Manipur at the times of its Statehood will not be considered Manipur People. Also, if the intended target is outsiders, when did the influx of outsiders in huge numbers starts? Maybe in the 1980s or 1990s. Why then the cut off year of 1951?

AUTHORS : The year 1951 is a procedural standard for discerning out outsiders as the process of registering for Indian citizenship started in this year. Influx in large numbers started in waves beginning with the Bangladesh War. M. Koireng Ministry had to settle Bangladesh migrants in Saiton. Secondly, the Mizo liberation movement under Laldenga in the 1960s pushed in large numbers of Mizo nationals into the territory of Manipur. Then, this was followed by infiltration of Myanmar nationals (pro-democratic) as well as those who acted as intelligence agents to the Indian security personnel for counter insurgency operations into the soil of Manipur from the 1980s onwards. Finally, there has been the perpetual problem of illegal migration of Bangladeshis and Nepalese into Manipur. Therefore, 1951 as the cut-off year is the best tangible time considering the immense threat posed to Manipur. However, one can always learn from the issue of foreigners in Assam and how the Assam Government has arrived at an appropriate year considering the political nature of the issue.

This is something all of us can put our heads together for practical reasons.

ZC: The Bill is also silent about the procedure to be adopted for determination of Manipur People. It defines Manipur People but is silent about the procedure to determine whether one is Manipur People or not. It is not clear on whom the onus/ burden of proving whether a person is a native of Manipur or not lies. Whether the onus of proving lies with the person or the Government? This is not clear and in the absence of such, it is fearful that the onus will lie with the person. And how can one proves that he is a native of Manipur? Even if one’s grandfather can proves that he is a native of Manipur, the question is how he/ she proves himself/ herself to be the descendants of her/his grandfather? If the directory/ Register mentioned in the Bill are not in public domain, then how can one determine who are the natives of Manipur?

AUTHORS: A Bill cannot carry every rules and regulations (R&R) for the purpose of implementation in its provisions. Often, and in this case absolutely, guidelines and rules and regulations must be framed. Again learning from the ongoing exercise of Assam regarding its compilation of National Population Register, the onus of proving who is a native of Manipur must be a collective effort and best suited to the ground reality of Manipur. For practical reasons even the notion of link-descendent must be tolerated.

ZC: The Bill creates a new Statutory Body/Directorate of Registration of Non Manipur Persons and Tenants. But there is no appeal against the decisions of the Directorate.

AUTHORS: As mentioned above, rules and regulations are bound to be framed reflecting the spirit, philosophy and basis of the Bill. Therefore, there shall be provisions in the R&R for appeals and grievance redressal.

ZC: The definition of “Manipur People” in this particular Bill used in other Acts/Bills to deny services and facilities and amenities to the People of Manipur is clear from the ML & LR (Seventh

Amendment) Bill 2015. Nowhere in the Original Act, 1960 or in the Amendment Bill 2015 is the definition of term “Manipur People” found used or was mentioned but in the Amendment Bill of 2015, a new word and term” Non-Manipur People” has been inserted. It is assumed that the term “Manipur People” and “Non¬ Manipur People” are used as defined by the Protection of Manipur People Bill 2015. Similarly, in future laws these definitions used in the Protection of Manipur People Bill will used to deny services, amenities, facilities to the people of Manipur, especially the tribals.

AUTHORS: Understanding of “Manipur people” is subsumed in the Manipur Land Revenue and Land Reforms Act, 1960. The purpose of the 3(three) proposed bills passed in the State Assembly to precisely distinguish between the “Manipur people” and “Non-Manipur people”. Further, as correctly pointed out, there is no definition of “Manipur people” in the ML & LR (Seventh Amendment) Bill, 2015 as its understanding is again subsumed and must be read along with the relevant provisions of the Protection of Manipur People Bill 2015 when need arises for the “determination” of “Manipur” or “Non-Manipur people”. If any tribal or general people does not fall within the category of “Manipur people”, obviously services, amenities and facilities shall be denied to the.

ZC: The introductory part of the Manipur Land Revenue and Land Reforms Amendment Bill 2015 speaks about the geographical areas of the valley vis-a-vis the hill, the difference in the population and population density in the valley and hill areas and the pressure on land in the valley. If the ILPS agitation is all about the influx of outsiders, the Statement of Object of the Bill which was introduced in the Special Session of the Manipur Assembly in pursuance of the agitation of ILPS never once mentioned the influx of outsider.

AUTHORS: Statement of Object and statement of problem are two different issues. Influx of outsider is a problem statement, which becomes the core content of the 3(three) Bills.

ZC: In view of the above stated facts and circumstances, we are therefore of the view that the Manipur People Bill 2015 is against the interest of the tribal people of Manipur as it is intended to uproot the tribal populace from the place of their birth and would thus prayed to your humble office to kindly withheld your assent to the Bill and viewed the matter seriously to safeguard and protect the tribal against the onslaught of the majority valley people and for which act of your kind consideration, we shall remain indebted to you.

AUTHORS: From the above clarifications, it becomes evident that the 3(three) Bills are not an expression of majoritarian will but intended for the protection of Manipur People, its land and resources. Apprehension of ZC is completely misplaced.

LEAVE A REPLY

1 × five =

60 − = 58