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Friday, 20 December 2019 - Imphal Times

Citizens of Manipur come out voluntarily and stage peaceful protest against CAA

IT News

Imphal, Dec 20

A group of concerned citizens of Manipur came together at Iroishemba and staged a peaceful protest against amended Citizenship Act (CAA) and to show solidarity to the people of Assam, Tripura and other northeast states. The protest had artistes, film makers, and people from different walks of life. People protested with songs and placards.

Singer Akhu Chingabam’s song “Lainingthou lairenbi gi manairensa, kumsi di army yam lakkani hairiye,” inspired the protesters at Iroishemba.  Later, the crowd moved to Khwairamband Ema Keithel and marched, holding placards and chanting slogans. Police stopped them on the way and made them stay on the roadside. The protestors continued to sing protest songs.

Some of the protestors expressed their views on why the protest and what made them take this step. One protestor said, “We are here to protest against CAA with no affiliation to any organization. Everyone has come out on their individual capacity.”

She said, “As a Manipuri, we are with the people of the north eastern states. At the end of the day CAA is going to affect us all, we should be aware of this.”

Another protestor, also an artist said, “The need for this protest is due to the silence of the government and agreeing to whatever the central government said. Not only this, the government has celebrated the implementation of ILP with ‘thabal chongba’ and CM threatening people to arrest anyone that try to protest, trying to gag the voice of people.” He added, “The state is also creating fear psychosis by threatening people to not protest, even to not say anything on social media. Even R.K. Echanthoibi has been arrested. A friend of mine has been threatened by a local BJP worker.”

One of the protestors said, “This is a peaceful protest to show solidarity with the people of our neighbouring states and show respect to the lives lost. It is to send out the message that people of Manipur opposes CAA. There is also a sense of fear, but I want to ask what to be scared of. No one can put you in jail for participating in such protest. The state’s instruction to arrest any protestor has instilled fear amongst the people, but we do not need to be fearful of this.” He shared his opinion on the impact of ILP, “ILP is not going to protect us. The settlers might get citizenship from other states where CAB is applicable and they will further come to northeast even with the ILP. We need to foresee that those settling on our land can have a huge impact on our economy.” “The reason people have come out voluntarily is to protect our indigeneity and show solidarity with other northeast states. It will be shameful if we are silent in this crucial time.”

A Manipuri Rongmei lady, who joined the protestors said, “I am here to protest CAA because I was concerned with whatever is happening in the country and was pissed that no organization in Manipur is doing anything about it.” When asked about the need for this voluntary action, she said, “Personally, I feel individuals should actually come out because the CSOs and student organizations have been biased towards certain communities in most of the protests, but this time, it is personal.”

Regarding the slow momentum of the protest, she believed, “Because a lot of people voted for this government, so, I think, they believe the government and are unaware of the whole situation. Another huge factor is the state violence. We also care about our jobs, career, and family, so, we cannot blame the people also completely.”

While covering the protest in Khwairamband Keithel, one Imphal Times’ journalist was physically obstructed from filming the event by a police personal.

The police tried to arrest Sarangthem Manjit former student leader who joined the protest at Khwairamband Keithel, Imphal. As he was pulled up by two armed police personnel, social activist Kh. Monika dared the bayonet of the security personnel and snatched him from the claws of the security personnels.

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CAA- difference in perspectives

IT Desk

Imphal, Dec 20

Assam has been constantly burning in spite of every attempt by the government to shut the protest down. The news has somehow travelled all the way to Delhi and then to the rest of India. The protest to scrap CAA, which has been confined only to the northeast, has now reached various university campuses and streets of India. People flooding the streets in a number of cities have painted a picture of united India against the contentious Citizenship Amendment Act. Though the protests are to scrap CAA, there is a stark difference between the narratives pushed forward by northeast and the rest of India.

The rest of India has just come out on the streets after the bill became an Act, with the objection that the Act is unconstitutional in its nature with its exclusionary politics that is discriminatory against the Muslims. On the other hand, the northeast has been protesting ever since the bill was introduced, tabled, scrapped, reintroduced, and passed with the same narrative that the bill, now Act, is anti-indigenous and poses a threat to their identity, culture, and socio-economic and political status in their own land.

The movement that started from northeast by the indigenous people as protection of indigenous people from the immigrant-settlers, has turned into a religion-based movement as soon as it reached Delhi. While the rest of India feel for the Muslim immigrants and call the Act anti-Muslim, the indigenous people of northeast are not contesting on the idea of religion but solely on the basis of protecting their indigeneity from the immigrant-settlers. The inclusion or exclusion of Muslims from the Act does not make a difference to the indigenous people of northeast. To them, both cases are only about speeding up the naturalization of settlers. They have witnessed the impact of immigrant-settlers flooding into Tripura where the indigenous people have been outnumbered and marginalized, a classic case of settler colonialism- the same which the whole of northeast is scared of, and CAA is only going to make it worse.

Another issue that the rest of India is worried about is the BJP government’s announcement for a pan India NRC. The fear is that CAA will legalize the non-muslim illegal immigrants before NRC and, therefore, NRC will forcefully send the illegal Muslims immigrants away from India. On the top of that, NRC can make thousands of poor immigrants at risk of losing their citizenship due to the lack of proper documents. On the contrary, the concern for NRC in the northeast, especially Assam, has always been completely different. It has always been about protecting the indigenous people, their lands, their rights, culture, economy, polity.

The continuous influx of these settlers in massive scale over the years has pushed the poor indigenous people to the margins in their own land. Similarly, the Manipur Peoples (Protection) Bill, 2018, which was presented as an option to protect the indigenous people and to prevent the influx of settlers (both from neighbouring countries and other Indian states), which has created a threat to employment opportunities for the indigenous people and availability of other limited resources. The Bill has a base year of 1951 for the identification process with a month’s time for the non-Manipuris to register, but is still yet to get the president’s assent. It has a provision to extend upto six months, and five years for trade licenses. Similarly, the agreement between AMSU and AMSCOC and the then government clearly mentioned the base year as 1951. The rest of India view NRC and CAA only as an anti-Muslim agenda of the current BJP government while the northeast is concerned about the continuity and development of the indigenous people. Another stark difference is in the immediacy of the reactions.

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Indian citizen staying in rent, if certified by land lord can enroll in voter list of that constituency

IT News

Imphal, Dec 20

Chief Minister N. Biren Singh today said that any citizen of India who stayed at rent house at any constituency, if certified by the landlord can be enrolled in the voter list of that constituency.

The Chief Minister was replying to a question asked by Congress MLA Khumukcham Joykishan during question hour today.

“Any genuine Aadhar card holder, who is a citizen of India, if stay in a rented room can be enrolled in the voter list if he is certified by the land owner of his rented room”, the Chief Minister said. However no person from another constituency can enroll in the voter list of another constituency, he added.

In a statement tabled by the Chief Minister in connection with the question, the Chief Minister stated that, inmates of jail and other legal custody, hospitals, beggar homes, asylum etc. should not be included in the electoral rolls of the constituencies in which such institutions are located.

The Chief Minister assures to give instruction to the district authority for checking of the valid voters enrolled in the electoral roll. He also said that instructions will be given to cooperate with the MLAs and others who are putting up matters of wrongful enrolment at voter list

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MLA AK Mirabai urges for extension of the session for adopting resolution in connection with the Indo Naga peace talk

IT News
Imphal, Dec 20

Congress MLA AK Mirabai today urged the speaker of the Manipur Legislative to extend the 9th session of the 11th Manipur Legislative Assembly for at least a day to discuss and take a resolution on the issue of the Indo-Naga peace talk
Bringing up the issue as public importance during zero hour in the last day of the session, Ak Mirabai said that people of the state under the aegis of Co-ordinating Committee on the Manipur Integrity (COCOMI) has been demanding full assurance for the protection of the territorial and administrative boundary of the state of Manipur while settling the issue of the NSCN-IM and the Government of India.
“We have heard from media report that the government may grant an autonomous council for the Naga inhabited in the state of Manipur and if it is true the house need to adopt a resolution for protection of the state”, the Congress MLA said during zero hour.
Earlier during question hour another Congress MLA RK Imo had sought information regarding the status of the Indo Naga Peace talk from the leader of the house.
Leader of the Manipur Legislative Assembly, who is also the chief minister of Manipur in his re ply said that central government has not disclosed or communicated anything about the status of the Indo Naga Peace Talk to the State government. The Chief Minister further said that the Union Home Minister has made no official communication to the state government regarding the meeting between the representatives of the Civil Society bodies of Manipur and political parties.
Regarding the stand of the Manipur government for protection of the state of Manipur, the Chief Minister said that Resolution adopted by the State Assembly adopted on December , 22, 2017 and July 23, 2018 had been submitted to the Ministry of Home Affairs.  

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Private hospitals threaten to suspend CGHS cashless services

IT News
Mumbai, Dec 20

Over 9,000 private empanelled hospitals across the country, providing cashless service to patients under Central Government Health Scheme (CGHS) and other healthcare schemes like Ex-Servicemen Contributory Health Scheme (ECHS), have threatened to suspend the cashless services if pending dues of over Rs 3000 crore are not released by the Central Government.
The Association of Healthcare Providers (India) (AHPI) held a special meeting in New Delhi on Thursday and decided to give a final call to the Government to clear the dues immediately to enable them to continue the services.
AHPI Director General Dr. Girdhar J. Gyani, told “Imphal Times” that the scheme has become unsustainable the dues are piling up. If a small hospital spends Rs 50 crore, after a long time, the Government releases Rs 50 crore. By the time the payment is received, the amount spent by the hospital is doubled. Even the Delhi based major hospitals like Max, Medanta, Fortis, Apollo and Gangaram find it difficult to meet the expenses. Besides the CGHS rates have  not been revised since 2014, although it was agreed to revise the rates every two years, he added.
“We have tried to bring the plight of our members (private hospitals) to the attention of the Prime Minister too, but no avail.  We wrote to him again today seeking his intervention in the matter Gyani said.
“Considering that 70 per cent of OPD and 60 per cent of IPD patients are being taken care of by private healthcare providers, the likely disruption of health services due to financial crunch is going to impact the national healthcare scenario more so in tertiary care where private sector provides more than 85 per cent of such services,” AHPI President Dr Alexander Thomas, said.
CGHS promises comprehensive  medical care to approximately 35 lakh Central government employees and pensioners. Ex- and sitting MPs, pensioners, freedom fighters and employees serving at CGHS, Directorate General of Health Services and the Health Ministry are entitled to cashless services at empanelled providers. Pensioners and their dependents account for around 11 lakh of registered beneficiaries.  
However Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Joint Secretary Alok Saxena, said   that “This year so far, around Rs 1,400 crore have been released to service providers for cashless services and more payments are under process.”
Meanwhile the Indian Medical Association (IMA) has also endorsed the stand taken by the private empanelled hospitals, saying that the healthcare industry is passing through a crisis and crores of rupees remain unpaid to private hospitals under CGHS) and ECHS. “If the situation is allowed to persist, lakhs of hospital employees may lose jobs. Despite repeated attempts made by hospitals and associations, the situation has not improved,”  IMA  Secretary  General Dr R V Asokan said and added that studies carried out by various institutes show that rates of many procedures under CGHS do not cover even the operating cost incurred by hospitals.

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Tainted altruism

If the country, and by extension, the states comprising it is to steer towards the direction of progress and development, thereby putting a halt to the deteriorating economic growth which slowed to a six-and-a-half-year low in Q2 FY 2019, which ran from July to September, the burning issue of the Citizenship Amendment Act –CAA should be put to rest for good. A task easier said than done given the increasing magnitude of protests and agitations against it. The declaration of Amit Shah who is the Minister of Home Affairs that there is no question of rolling back what can arguably described as the most controversial and contested Act in recent history only goes to show the extent to which the central government is willing to go to implement the act. On the other hand, there is an increase, both in terms of intensity and magnitude, in the opposition towards the act, with intellectuals and prominent public personalities including filmstars lending their voice to the agitation. The print as well as electronic media is still churning out opinions, discussions and editorials, and from what one can gather, almost every expressed opinion is against the act.
The ruling BJP government, meanwhile is on overdrive trying to play down the whole sordid affair as an instigated and orchestrated event. Expounding the Act as a much needed measure to provide relief to the prosecuted minorities of the neighbouring countries of Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh, the government is yet to provide a plausible or convincing explaination as to why only Muslim-majority countries are specifically mentioned, or that if religious prosecution is being carried out only in these countries. The expressed objectives of the Act is a noble and philanthropic one which merits applause and support, but despite its altruistic intentions, the obstinate reluctance of the centre to address the specific concerns of different regions as well as geographical variations before passing the Bill have painted a dark picture to the whole effort, and is becoming a cause for grave concern and a questionable intent. Dismissing the voice of the people in such a manner does not bode well for those at the helm of affairs, and certainly amounts to underestimating the integrity of the hundreds of thousands of the protesting voice. To state that the protests are organized by the opposing political parties is nothing short of insulting the intelligence of the dissenting public amongst which are thousands of intellectuals, academicians and even bureaucrats.
The centre needs to abstain from its long-practiced arm-twisting methods of getting things done their way. Trying to look after the welfare of the neighbours while members of the family are still reeling under poverty, unemployment and pressures of everyday life does not translate to altruism. The self-serving agenda of the central government is getting clearer with each passing day, and what is more unfortunate is that the practice of arm-twisting has been applied to its own people, as is evident from the admissions of a few nominated representatives from the state.
Even though the state is under the ILP system thereby providing a brief respite from the immediate threat of CAA, it is in no way a permanent solution or a reliable defence mechanism from the inevitable influx of illegal immigrants which is making their way to the state. It is only a matter of ‘when’ and not ‘what if’. The state government should make necessary arrangements or else the people will be forced to find their own means to ensure their safety. And time is running out.

NE: Improving journo-murder index

By : Nava Thakuria

As the year 2019 approaches the finish line, India sets to improve its journo-murder index with two casualties where as our northeastern region (NE) evades any incident of scribe’s murder for the second  consecutive year. Indian sub-continent has witnessed the murder of 12 journalists during the year.
With only 49 journalists killed for journalistic works around the world (95 casualties in 2018)  till date, India’s share has also gone down from six to two. Moreover, its neighbours namely Bangladesh, Nepal, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Maldives, Tibet (under China), and Bhutan have not reported any incident of scribe’s murder this year.
Pakistan and Afghanistan topped the list of journo-murders in South Asia as both the countries have lost five journalists each to assailants in 2019. Conflict-riddled Pakistan reported the murders of Zafar Abbas, Mirza Waseem Baig,  Muhammad Bilal Khan, Ali Sher Rajpar, and Malik Amanullah Khan for journalistic activities. Afghanistan lost  Jabid Noori, Nader Shah Sahebzadeh, Sultan Mohammad Khairkhah, Shafiq Aria, and Rahimullah Rahmani to assailants.
India as a whole lost six scribes in 2019, but only two murders are understood as being related to journalism related activities. Andhra Pradesh based journalist K Satyanarayana and Madhya Pradesh based journalist  Chakresh Jain faced the fate because of their works as journalists. However, four other cases are yet to be confirmed that they were targeted for media activities.
Young reporter Satyanarayana, who worked for Telugu daily ‘Andhra Jyothy’, was hacked to death by miscreants at Annavaram village of East Godavari district on the night of 15 October. Local scribes reported that Satyanarayana was targeted in an earlier occasion too and he informed it to the local police.   Jain, a freelance journalist died of serious burn injuries on 19 June as he was involved in a quarrel with the assailant at Shahgarh locality.
Others who were killed this year include Radheyshyam Sharma from Uttar Pradesh,  K Muhammed Basheer from Kerala,  Anand Narayan  and Nityanand Pandey from Maharashtra. Sharma was allegedly murdered on 10 October by his neighbours. Basheer lost his life as a running vehicle, driven by a senior government officer, mowed down him on 3 August. A news channel contributor (Narayan) was murdered on  4 June by miscreants and a magazine editor Pandey was killed in another incident on 17 March.
A young scribe from Bihar named Pradeep Mandal was targeted by miscreants on 28 July, but he survived luckily. He contributed a number of news items against the local liquor mafia for Dainik Jagaran and invited enmities from the goons. Meanwhile, a Guwahati based scribe named Naresh Mitra died on 9 December after sustaining head injuries in a mysterious accident inside the city as the soft-spoken scribe left for home in the evening hours.
India lost six journalists (Navin Nischal, Vijay Singh, Sandeep Sharma, Syed Shujaat Bukhari, Achyuta N Sahu and Chandan Tiwari) to assailants in 2018, whereas the trouble-torn northeastern region has once again evaded murder of any journalist in two years. Often described as a disturbed zone because of relentless violence engineered by armed militants, the region (except Tripura) has avoided any incident of  journalist’s murder for many years.
Tripura reported the murder of five media persons in 2013 and 2017, whereas Assam and Manipur witnessed the last killing of media persons (Dwijamani Nanao Singh from Imphal and Raihanul Nayum from Dhubri) in 2012. Till the recent time, the region was a breeding ground for insurgents fighting against New Delhi with demands for self-rule to sovereignty. Both the States were once severely affected by the militancy, where over 30 separatist armed outfits went on with disruptive activities including extortion, kidnapping, and killings.
For Indian working journalists, the year 2017 is recognized as a deadliest year as 12 scribes (Hari Prakash, Brajesh Kumar Singh, Shyam Sharma, Kamlesh Jain, Surender Singh Rana, Gauri Lankesh, Shantanu Bhowmik, KJ Singh, Rajesh Mishra, Sudip Datta Bhaumik, Naveen Gupta and Rajesh Sheoran) were either murdered or killed in suspicious situations. Among the casualties, Tripura reported two incidents of journo-murder (Shantanu and Sudip Datta).
In 2016, India witnessed the targeted killings of six scribes, where as the previous year the country lost five journalists to assailants.
A satisfactory statistics on journo-murder index was observed in 2014, when the country reported only two incidents of journo-murders.  But year 2013 emerged a dangerous year for scribes with 11 casualties including three media employees (Sujit Bhattacharya, Ranjit Chowdhury and Balaram Ghosh) from Tripura.
Various international media rights bodies including Paris-based Reporters Sans Frontiers (RSF), New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), Brussels-based International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) etc have come out separate reports that we lost around 50 journalists across the world in 2019, which is  the lowest death toll in 16 years.
While defining journalists as individuals who cover news or comment on public affairs in print, radio, television, online outlets etc, those organizations maintained that incidents of abuse, assault-attacks and imprisonment of scribes by government forces, political goons, anti-social elements, etc continue everywhere as over 350 journalists were imprisoned in 2019, where  China, Turkey, Egypt, Saudi Arabia,
Iran, Vietnam, etc have taken the lead.The author is a  northeast India based media activist.

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