The Government of Manipur(GoM) has attributed the underdevelopment of the tribal hill areas in the present state of Manipur to unfavourable law and order situation and to the absence of land laws.
But the fact of the matter is that there are more than 20 militant groups operating in the Imphal valley and this could be the reason for Imphal valley’s overdevelopment vis-a-vis the tribal hill areas. With regard to the second attribute, it is a fact that the tribal hill areas do not come under the purview of the Manipur Land Revenue & Land Reforms Act of 1960, but the Nagas and tribals have their own land holding system as per the customary laws of the respective tribe.
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. 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.
In protest against the unabated communal actions and policies of the GoM to legitimise the usurpation of the lands of the tribals and destruction of their traditional institutions, a 48 hours total bandh had been observed in Naga areas w.e.f the midnight of 16th June, 2014.
After thorough deliberation in the Presidential Council of the UNC held on the 3rd July, 2014 it has been decided that no new policy, laws or notification on land and resources would be welcomed by the Nagas till such time an alternative arrangement outside the system of the GOM is put in place, which is being pursued in the democratic process of tripartite talk. The respective tribe councils and regional organisations will therefore abstain from the district level stakeholders consultative meetings on the NLUP being organised by the GoM to ensure that opportunity to legitimise the same is not given.
United Naga Council