MANIPUR – POLITICAL CRISIS

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Manipur, one of the most beautiful north-eastern States, has come to a situation of crisis with shortage of essential commodities, frequent bandhs, clashes and curfews. The normal life of people in Manipur has become paralyzed.

All these started when three controversial Bills were passed by the Okram Ibobi Singh Government in August last year. It prompted violent protests, killing some people and also injuring many others.

The creation of these three Bills started when there was a demand by the Meiteis in the valley to introduce a permit for any outsider wanting to visit the State. It is called the Inner Line Permit and is granted by the State Government. The Inner Line Permit is an official and obligatory travel document issued by the Government of India to allow inward travel of an Indian citizen into a protected area for a limited period. So, anyone residing outside the State who is not a native will need it to enter Manipur. This Permit was introduced to ensure that the hill States were protected. The plan behind this was to prevent non-tribals from settling there and disturbing the fragile demography.

To fulfill this demand, the three Bills were passed.

The first Bill, Manipur People’s Protection Bill, considers Manipuris as those whose names appear in the 1951 Census. The tribals fear losing the land their parents or grandparents left behind just because of unavailability of records. They fear that they would be excluded as most of these areas were inaccessible at that point of time and documentation was very poor.

The second Bill, the Manipur Land Revenue and Land Reforms Bill (Seventh Amendment), is in direct violation of Section 371C of the Indian Constitution which prohibits purchase of tribal land by non-tribals. Their main fear is that if they lose their land, then they will have nothing to hold on to because they are mostly into agriculture.

The third Bill, the Manipur Shops and Establishments (Second Amendment), also is feared as it will allow expansion of business in tribal areas. This will bring in outsiders to establish shops and after a few years, they will be in charge because of their money power.

Though the Bills have been passed by the assembly, the President has not yet given his assent.

 

Sanchayeeta Das

Legal Associate

The Indian Lawyer

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