The social divide on communal lines between the Nagas and Meiteis that has become deeply entrenched in the present state of Manipur has been acknowledged with concern by none other than Dr Manmohan Singh, the then Prime Minister of India in his address in the 40th conference of DGPs on 26th August, 2010.
There is a democratic process of dialogue at the tripartite level of the Government of Manipur(GoM), Government of India(GoI) and the Nagas of Manipur under the aegis of the UNC on the demand for an alternative arrangement outside the communal GoM pending settlement of the Indo-Naga issue and it has logically progressed to a stage where a high powered committee would be set up by the GoI to translate the demand into a political reality. But the GoM under Mr Ibobi has intensified their communal policies and actions to legitimise the destruction of the traditional institutions and usurpation of the ancestral lands of the tribals and the Nagas through legislations, administrative orders & notifications.
I) The GoM has moved for establishment of “Village Development Committee” (VDC) in each village in the name of development. The VDCs are to be chosen by the general body of the village but without the involvement nor endorsement of the village council/village authority, the ultimate traditional authority of the village.Instead of strengthening the village council/village authority, a parallel body with development function is to be put in place to render the Chiefs, Khulakpas and Khunpus impotent and irrelevant . The village which is the primary polity of the tribals is being pushed into a conflict and division situation. This is a move to destroy the village republic system of the Nagas and the tribals.
Although Manipur Land Revenue & Land Reforms Act, 1960 (MLR&LR Act) is not applicable in the tribal area of the hills, the GoM after passing the bill for a Separate Revenue Directorate for the Hills in 2012, has notified for extending the jurisdiction of the Revenue Tribunal Manipur to Ukhrul, Tamenglong, Chandel and Churachandpur and the District Judge, Senapati has been appointed as the Presiding Officer, Revenue Tribunal Senapati. Every Naga and tribal village have their own distinct territorial boundary and jurisdiction. The tribals have their own way of life and to them the land and the people cannot be parted as their culture, tradition and identity are interwoven with the land. The constitution of Revenue tribunals in the tribal districts is a subtle move to get around the MLR&LR Act and legitimize the usurpation of the ancestral lands of the tribals.
The New Land Use Policy of Manipur (2014) (NLUP) based on the Mizoram model is being taken up by the GoM ostensibly to improve productivity and minimise demand on land resources. Mizoram has 100% tribal population and their experience therefore will be universal in terms of legal implication on ownership of land. In the state of Manipur, where 41 % of the population is tribal, who owns 90% of the geographical area of the state, the NLUP is just another ploy to dilute the land ownership of the tribal people. There are no Khas land in the Naga territory in Manipur. But the NLUP is roping in the Village Development Committees, the newly conceptualised instrument for abolishing the village republic system of the Nagas and the tribals and to encroach upon our lands.
120 tribal villages under Saikul Sub-division of Senapati District has been included by the GoM under various police stations of Imphal East District and Thoubal District, both of which are valley districts. Why can the tribal villages not continue under the original Police stations or if felt necessary, why cannot new police stations be opened up in the respective Districts? The communal GoM seeks to control the tribals and their land through its policing machinery by tagging the above villages to Police Stations of the Imphal valley districts and by diluting the distinct district boundaries.
There is clear intent to alienate the tribals from their traditional land and weaken their village republics by stealth and seemingly benevolent policies and administrative orders/notifications and to also deprive them of every opportunity. Free Prior Informed Consent of the tribals, the stakeholders are not obtained. It is an alarming situation where the tribals have to fight every steps of the way to political empowerment.
Mr Ibobi has gone one record to maintain that there are no Nagas in Manipur and no land belongs to Nagas. Our identity as a people and our ownership of our ancestral land has been denied by the Chief Minister of the state clearly disowning the Tribals and Nagas as citizens of the state.
II) Mr Ibobi has stated that he does not understand what the alternative arrangement means and in his Independence Day 2014 speech, as the first citizen of the state, he has declared that the alternative arrangement is a pipe dream. The GoM is a party to the tripartite talk on alternative arrangement which has seen seven rounds, the last of which was attended by political representatives of the GoM. In utter disrespect of the democratic process of dialogue he condemn the very process in which his Government is a party, while at the same time adopting a double standard posture saying that any issue can be discussed and resolved without resorting to agitation. Outrightly disrespectul of the democratic process of dialogue, GoM advocates dialogue to maintain the status quo of suppression and political disempowerment.
The Indo-Naga cease-fire is between 2 entities and without any pre-condition and has been entered into for creating the environment and space for an acceptable and honourable settlement. But Ibobi maintain that there is no Cease-fire in Manipur and under the pretext of law and order has militarised the Naga areas, particularly Ukhrul headquarters with the CrPC 144 in place for more than 40 days. This is at best, state sponsored terrorism. The Indo-Naga peace process issue is opposed with communal intent by the GoM, which is a state within the Union of India and is therefore anti-national.
In the non-“suspension of operation” and non “cease-fire” areas of the valley, normal life continues without militarisation by the GoM. But where there is “suspension of operation” and “cease-fire” in tribal areas there is militarisation. Mr Ibobi has on the floor of the state Assembly even welcomed the proposal of a referendum by a valley based outlawed militant organisation.Can any Government, which claims to represent the people, be more blatantly communal than this contrasting testimony.
There are no Nagas in Manipur. No to Indo-Naga cease-fire. No to political empowerment of tribals and Nagas. No to protection of ancestral lands of the Nagas and tribals. No to the constitutional rights of employment and educational opportunities of the Nagas and tribals, as borne out by the current reservation crisis in Manipur University, the highest temple of learning and wisdom. No to development of the tribal areas on the pretext of law and order and absence of land laws – this is the GoM’s policy towards the Nagas and tribal people.
In view of the above it has been decided to organise mass rallies in all the Naga district headquarters on the 30th August, 2014 at 11 AM and to focus the programme on the following assertions –
- Demand from the GoI for expediting an acceptable and honourable settlement of the Indo-Naga issue.
- Protest against the militarisation of Naga areas particularly Ukhrul district by GoM with Manipur State forces in utter disrespect of the Indo-Naga cease-fire.
- Protest against the GoM’s disrespect for the democratic process of tripartite talk on alternative arrangement which has progressed to a logical stage.
- Protest against the unabated aggressive policies of the GoM to encroach upon the ancestral lands of the Nagas and tribals through Laws, Acts & Notifications to subvert the protective provisions of the MLR & LR Act, 1960.
A joint memorandum on the above points of demand and protests will be submitted by the Tribe Hohos and frontal organisation of the respective districts through the GoI agencies to the Hon’ble Prime Minister of India and also dispatched through post.
We appeal to all Churches, Christian leaders, Frontal & Regional Organisations, village chiefs and village council/authorities, students and youths leaders to take up the moral responsibilities for ensuring the maximum participation of the people in the rally.
We also advise our people to be vigilant against any attempt of the adversaries to discredit the peoples’ movement for our political aspirations by sabotaging the democratic civil action.
United Naga Council