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Saving the future to fight over

by Rinku Khumukcham
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The relentless agitation spearheaded by the JCILPS Manipur has been demanding the state government to obtain the assent or approval for the three bills- (Protection of Manipur Peoples Bill 2015, Manipur Land Revenue & Land Reforms (seventh amendment) Bill 2015, and Manipur Shops & Establishment (second amendment) Bill 2015 ), passed by the state legislative assembly on August 31 last year from the President of India, even after the state government have appointed a committee to represent the state and argue the case for approval of the said bills which will enable them to be enacted as laws speak volumes about the level of trust the public has endowed on the current government. Perhaps the genesis of this deep distrust and suspicions of the intent of the state government can be traced back to the time when neighbouring forces, both as individuals and in groups from across the state cajoled the central government to extend the ceasefire between NSCN-IM and the Government of India ‘without territorial limits’ during June 2001 which prompted the public to go on a spontaneous rampage fuelled by the feeble attempt of the state government to raise objections against the pact which the public in the state considers a transgression of ethical and territorial integrity of the state. Or perhaps the calculated silence is a tried and tested formula for waiting out the initial fervour of any agitations or campaigns by the public, which, while mostly successful on the part of the state government, have further embittered the agitating public, paving the way for more intense and destructive forms of protests and agitations.
The present agitations, however has two sides to the story, and the people in the hills are rising against the efforts of the state government to push for the enactment of the bills by the state government, terming the three bills as ‘Anti-tribal’ and threatening the future of the people in the hills. The protests against the state government passing the bills in the state assembly has been gathering momentum, and by the looks of it, the two opposing parties are on a collision course if both decides to stick to their points. It must be added here that there are certain points of contention in the bills which needs to be revised and brought to consensus as otherwise these will prove to be the proverbial spanner in the works, one most prominent point being the fixing of 1951 as the base year for detection of outsiders and their deportation. The very point, though included in the three bills passed has not reached its rational conclusion with many prominent individuals and organisations expressing doubts and reservations on the particular issue, and as Imphal Free Press editor and author Pradip Phanjoubam opined- the point is not ‘within reason,’ and has ‘no practical application’ and hence the Manipur government   needs to revise it, while adding  that “There are still major doubts about the claim that the three ILP related bills hurt the sentiments of the tribal people in the state. I’ve gone through the contents of the bills. Though I’m not a legal expert, I would say that the bills do not impinge upon their interests at all”.
The ominous showdown of the two contrasting views and demands has put the state to a grinding halt, and the society has adopted a suspicious and uncertain outlook as a matter of fact. It is time to bring a rational closure to the protracted issue before there is no future to fight over. 

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Imphal Times is a daily English newspaper published in Imphal and is registered with Registrar of the Newspapers for India with Regd. No MANENG/2013/51092


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