By – Safiur Rahaman Maibam
Manipur literally translated as the “Land of Jewels” is a society which is multi ethnic in character. Manipur is bounded by Nagaland to the North, Mizoram to the South, Assam to the West and Burma lies to its East. Manipur before the advent of British Rule in the year 1891, was able to fight back Burma and other neighbouring countries and its domination was extended to parts of Burma, Naga Hills District ( now Nagaland) and Assam. Manipur regained its sovereignty from British Rule on 14 August 1947 before India got it. The Manipur Constitution Act 1947 was promulgated on 1st July 1947 and election were held on 11 & 18 June 1948 in the valley, on 26 and 27 July 1958 in the hills area which was based on the universal adult franchise. The political history of Manipur is unique. After Manipur merged into Indian Union the right of the indigenous people is threatening because of immigrants and State arrogance. Series of popular hues and cries have been raised from time to time for the protection of Indigenous people of Manipur.
Immigrants issue & British Rule – Manipur lost its sovereignty to British following the Anglo-Manipur War of 1891. During the British period, Manipur devised a very effective system of controlling the entry of NonManipuri called the permit or passport system. The permit system was brought under the Foreigner’s Department in 1931 for revenue and Judicial purposes concerning the foreigners. This help in maintaining the distinct identity of Manipur. Immigrants issue & Manipur as an independent entity- Manipur regained sovereignty on 14th August 1947 and Manipur adopted Manipur Naturalization Act 1947. It differentiated foreigners (including the Indians) from Manipuri. The permit system to enter into Manipur was continued to retain by the Manipur Council Resolution No. 4 of 1948. It controlled and regulated influx of Non-Manipuri and formed and important item of revenue.
Immigrants issue after Manipur merged into Indian Union- In 1949 Manipur became a part of India. In the first time Manipur was put in the Part-C status and the pre-existing permit system was arbitrarily abolished by the then Indian Chief Commissioner of Manipur Mr Himat Singh on 18th November 1950.
As a consequences, the uncontrolled & unchecked influx of nonindigenous people in all major, small town and most of the villages in the valley and hill district occupying the land,building,snatching away jobs, eroding/monopoly of economy affecting the day to day life and peaceful coexistence. This has caused slow transformation in outlook, identity and culture of Manipuri. It gives impact in demography, socio-economy and polity of Manipur. Migrants assimilated to Manipur society by marrying local woman & changing the surname to Meitei surname. Many localities of Manipur were flooded by the migrants such as Serou,Sugnu,Seiton,Jiribam, Thangmeiband,Khurai,Nagamapal, Keisham pat,Chingmeirong etc. Two major economic hub Thangal Bazar & Paona Bazar are controlled by Non-Manipuri. Because of political unrest in Burma many people were infiltrating through the porous borders of Burma & settled in hills area but they are difficult to differentiate because of common in language with the local. Non-Manipuri has the potential to snatch the political rights of indigenous people. In the last Panchayat election of Manipur a student organization called Kangleipak Students Association pointed out that 66 Non-Manipuri were contesting in the election. The apprehension about the subordination of Indigenous People Rights, Human Rights and displacement of indigenous people from their own land by the outsiders in the course of Act East Policy, Construction of Big Dam, Hydro Project, Oil drilling and extension of railways is deep rooted in the indigenous people’s movement of Manipur.
Series of indigenous people’s struggle for existence:-
First phase, after 1950s Manipur facing a demographic invasion because of the absence of an effective mechanism to regulate entry of non-Manipuri because of this foreigner issue erupted in Manipur. In 1980s, The All Manipur Students’ Union (AMSU) & The All Manipur Students’ Coordinating Committee (AMSCOC) launched a strong agitation with the motto “Go Back Foreigners” demanding detection, deletion and deportation of foreigners from Manipur. The then HSLC examination was boycotted as a part of the movement & during the agitation two students martyr’s Potshangbam Premananda (Lukhoi) and Huidrom Lokendro were killed by the forces. Their death anniversaries were clubbed & are being observed as the “Realization Day” by The All Manipur Students’ Union (AMSU) on 17th April of every year. This is the first awake up call of the indigenous people. Till date the indigenous people’s struggling for Rights was in a new direction. After a prolonged agitations, AMSU & AMSCOC come to an agreement with the then state government. Negotiations meeting were held on 22 Jul y 1980 & 5 August 1980. They entered into the final round of negotiation in the last meeting and signed the agreement consisting of 16-points. The agreement categorically mentioned that the government would start the process of detection, deletion and deportation of foreigners on the basis of the census report of 1951, National Register of Citizen 1951 and Village Directory 1951. It was also mentioned that a specific sub-section would be inserted in MLR & LR Act 1960 (Under section 158) as a preventive measure to check transfer of immovable properties from Manipuri to Non-Manipuri in the erstwhile central district. It was also clearly mentioned that the Government of Manipur agreed to send back foreigners in Manipur with citizenship certificate from West Bengal, Tripura and any other states of India to the state concern. But the government never implemented the agreement of detection, deletion, deportation of foreigners, the points of the agreement have remained only on paper.
Second phase, In 1994s the agitation on immigrants issue erupted which came to an end with a memorandum of agreement signed between the state government represented by Chief Secretary and AMSU in presence of the then Governor on 9th November 1994. The agreement reaffirmed the agreement signed in 1980 between the representatives of AMSU, AMSCOC & State Government. Unfortunately even after the second agreement, the provisions contained in the agreement were never implemented.
Third phase of the movement start for the protection of indigenous people with the demand of ILP system in Manipur by forming the ILP system Demand Committee on July 2, 2006. By induction of CSO, Joint Committee on Inner Line Permit System was formed on 4 July, 2012.
The committee demanded ILPs which has to be framed by local modification within the framework of the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation 1873, which was implemented in the neighbouring North-Eastern states. The demand has been endorsed by the Manipur Cabinet Decision of 12 July 2012 & Manipur State Assembly Resolution of 13 July 2012. But the Government of India turned down the resolution. However agitation grew day by day to its highest momentum. A student volunteer called Sapam Robinhood lost his life during police excesses on the fateful day July 8 2015. Finally after a long struggle on 31 August 2015 there Bills – The Protection of Manipur People Bill 2015 , The MLR & LR (Seventh Amendment) Bill 2015 and The Manipur Shops and Establishment (Second Amendment) Bill 2015 were passed by the emergency session of Manipur Legislative Assembly. Following the passage of three bills agitation erupted in Churachandpur and termed the bills as “Anti Tribal”. It led to the deaths of Nine young & precious life allegedly due to police firing. The agitation is mainly because of miscommunication & misinterpretation. However the all efforts for passing the bills had gone in vain because the bills was withheld by the President of India. A new bill called the Manipur People Bill,2018 was passed on 23 July 2018 during the fifth session of the eleventh Manipur Legislative Assembly. The bill defines “ Manipuri” & “Non-Manipuri” and seeks to regulate the entry and exist of the later in order to protect the interests of the identity of the former. According to the Bill, the Manipuri included the indigenous communities of Manipur such as Meitei, Pangal (Manipuri Muslim) ,Manipuri Scheduled Tribe listed under the Constitution and the Indian Nationals who have been living in Manipur before 1951. Bill is to the President of India for his consent.
Fourth phase, Citizenship (Amendment) Bill is gaining momentum yet again as central government trying to pass it. If this Bill is passed in Parliament, illegal migrants from certain minority communities coming from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and Pakistan will then be eligible for Indian citizenship. Moreover, these citizens gain permanent citizenship after six years of residency in India instead of 11 years – as mentioned in the Citizenship Act (1955). The indigenous people of North East in General & Manipur in particular strongly opposed this move. The intention of the indigenous people is that CAB is a population bomb that will wipe out the indigenous people from their own land. In name of social justice & human rights for the minorities community coming from Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Pakistan the social justice ,human rights and indigenous people rights of Manipuri will put on stagnant. It’s illogical. If India really care for the Human Rights & Social Justice, gives solidarity to the particular community to do Emancipatory politics for liberating themselves in their own land. It’s the voice of the indigenous people.
Coming to the conclusion, at this juncture, the Union government trying to pass CAB is the tyranny of majority at the expenses of those indigenous minority. Since 1950 the migrant in Manipur is a well crafted state sponsored migrants for suppressing the voice of dissent arises because of the series of political blunders committed by the state. The fate of Manipuri is uncertain! Indigenous people’s struggles for Right and existence became an endless struggle. In this moment the observation of “Realization Day” echoes the wake up call of the indigenous people. Wipe out the immigrants in Manipur not the indigenous Manipuri.
Reference :- Souvenir, The All Manipur Students’ Union ( Golden Jubilee, Commemorative Volume)
(***The author is presently Pursuing Post Graduate Political Science at DM University and can be contacted at Email – [email protected])