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“Claims and Refutations: Compilations on Inner Line Permit System” released

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Imphal, Aug 31: A book called “Claims and Refutations: Compilations on Inner Line Permit System edited by  Dr. Homen Thangjam, Dr. Shukhadeba Sharma Hanjabam & Dr. Aheibam Koireng published by  Centre for Manipur Studies, Manipur University was released today at the Conference Hall, Anthropology Department, Manipur University today.
The book released function organized by Centre for Manipur Studies, Manipur University was attended by Prof. M. Dhaneshwar Singh, Vice Chancellor, Manipur University as Chief Guest and Prof. W Nabakumar, Anthropology Department as Guest of Honour while Prof. L. Loken, Dean Students’ Welfare MU presided over it.
About the Book
In pre-colonial Manipur, immigration does not lead any to any social tension. Post 1891, there was instances of patronizing foreigners to live and settled in ‘British Reserved Areas’ by the British Colonial Authority. Even then, there were mechanisms for check and balances for restricting the entry of foreigners without permission and strictly limiting the number of days granted for stay. The problem started with the integration of Manipur to India in the year 1949. The removal of restrictions on the entry of outsiders by the GoI on 18 November 1950 was responsible for swarming in of immigrants in voluminous proportion consequently leading to increased pressure and shrinking of agricultural land and wet land and deforestation. The Manipur natives started perceiving that it had seriously impacted the cultural, socio-economic and geo-political structure of the land. At such milieu, the people of Manipur, particularly students, sprang up a movement directing against the state urging the government to expedite the process of deporting illegal immigrants in the early 1970s. It was at its peak during the period of 1980 to 1994 in which there have been two Memorandums of Agreement signed between the Government of Manipur and the agitating student’s body in the year 1980 and 1994 for the detection and deportation of illegal immigrants. However, it remains immaterial.  After the movement remaining lull for quite some time, it resurfaces with some concerted effort by United Committee Manipur (UCM). As a consequence of it, the Manipur State Legislative Assembly (MSLA) and the State Cabinet during the year 2012 – 2013, make some concerted efforts for extending the provisions of Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation 1873 to the State of Manipur ‘to save the indigenous people of Manipur from being overtaken by the outsiders’. In the meantime, Joint Committee on Inner Line Permit System (JCILPS) came into existence to champion the cause of enacting and implementing appropriate laws to protect the indigenous people of Manipur. With it, the movement became more broad-based and inclusive in the valley of Manipur, though same cannot be said of the hills. On 10th December 2014, the All Manipur Political Party on Inner Line Permit System submitted a report compiling reviews and opinions of experts towards framing appropriate provision of law for Protection of the Indigenous People recommending the enactment of law by the state government – to regulate the entry of visitors to the State with the provisions for issuing a permit for proper verification of the character and antecedent of such visitors; for compulsory reporting and verification of antecedents of tenants and domestic/professional helpers; strict enforcement of the existing law relating to the foreigners to check the entry of illegal migrants from neighboring countries; may be suitably amending the Manipur Land Revenue and Land Reforms Act, 1960 to incorporate a provision for imposing restriction on the transfer of land to the non-residents of the State with the basic intention of protecting the interest of local inhabitants while ensuring that the development of the State is not hampered; taking up immediate action for strict implementation of the existing labor laws in the state for enabling the State Government to identify and to restrict anti-social elements who tried to enter the State as the workmen; creating a separate Directorate under the State Home Department for monitoring and effective implementation of the proposed law on the Manipur Visitors Compulsory Registration, after its enactment.
Earlier JCILP had insisted for the inclusion of its five points already made known to the government of Manipur. The points include: cut off base year of 1951in demographic influx into the state; giving no-land ownership rights to all non-indigenous people; strengthening of labour department for registration and regulation of inter-state migrant labourers; and detection and deportation of illegal immigrants. Meanwhile, Indigenous Minority Socio-Cultural Organisation, Manipur (IMSCOM), with its membership consisting mostly from the numerically marginalized Manipur tribes had expressed support that with ILP the indigenous people could retain its tradition without fear of getting overwhelmed. On 12th July 2015, the ruling Congress Legislature Party had resolved to withdraw the MRVTMW Bill, 2015 and accordingly withdrew it on 15th July by convening a special session of the MSLA. Also, at the same time the Chief Minister gave a commitment that a new bill in place of the one withdrawn will be brought out within three months. On 13th March 2015, the Manipur Regulation of Visitors, Tenants and Migrant Workers (MRVT&MW) Bill was introduced in the floor of the MSLA and the same was passed even as 05 opposition MLAs walked out of the house. A day ahead of it JCILP had strongly opposed the bill. On 26th August 2015, the state Governor, Syed Ahmed had given consent on tabling three bills aimed at providing constitutional safeguard for protecting indigenous people of Manipur in the Assembly. As promised, the Protection of Manipur Peoples Bill (PMP) 2015; the Manipur Land Revenue and Land Reforms (Seventh Amendment) Bill 2015, and the Manipur Shops and Establishment (Second Amendment) Bill 2015 were introduced on 28th August 2015. On 19th August 2015, a breakthrough was achieved in the third round of peace talk between the government and the JCILPS. As its fall out, a joint statement signed by Special Secretary (Home), and JCILPS Convener in Charge was issued agreeing to incorporate all the five points suggested by JCILPS in different relevant bills. As a follow on, a public meeting was held on the following day adopting ten resolutions which include – reiteration of the earlier public convention resolution to include the five-point demand of the JCILPS in the new bill; inclusion of the Electoral Roll of 1948, the Census Report of 1951, and the Village Directory of 1951 in the definition of Manipur People; removing the reference in Section 8 (2) of its draft bill that persons to be exempted include (a) Private Undertaking (b) Local Authority and that once the bill is passed into an Act, during the framing of rules and regulations, the cut of base year of 1951 should be included in the ‘power to make rules’ of section 10 (2) of the bill; Putting the ‘non-Manipuri Peoples’ Firm, institutions or any other similar entities’ under section 14 (a) of the proposed draft bill no 2 (The MLR & LR, 7th amendment bill 2015); not allowing outsiders to buy land; provide a copy of the proposed amendment bill of the Labour Act which is under the State purview; replacing section 2 (j) of the proposed draft bill 1 by ‘non-Manipur people means those citizens of India who is not covered by section 2 (b) of this Act; inclusion of JCILPS representatives during the framing of rules and regulations when the draft bill becomes an Act; etc. All the three draft bills were tabled in the Manipur Legislative Assembly sans subsequently passed on 31st August 2015. With it violence erupted in Churachandpur District, more or less exclusively inhabited by tribes belonging to Chin-Kuki-Mizos or otherwise Zomis. Naga frontal organizations find it as a chance occasion to reset their foot in the Churachandpur which for long had not been accessible to the Nagas following the bloody Kuki-Naga clashes in the late 1990s. Grabbing the emerging opportunity without leaving any stones unturned, hoards of frontal Naga organisations with expressed solidarity just jumped the bandwagon of demonizing the bill so passed as ‘anti-tribal’. Even though, the issue becomes no longer relevant with the President of India refusing to give assent and returning the bills, the politics by Joint Action Committee against Anti Tribal Bill (JACAATB) over dead bodies is still continuing by refusing a decent ceremonial burial. The credibility of JACAATB, which membership are more or less exclusively from the Zomi community has now begun to be questioned by the Hmars and the Kukis. Against this backdrop of the dynamics unfolded in the sequential progression of the issues surrounding the ILPS in Manipur, this book is a compilation of the claims and counter claims of both the protagonist and antagonist complimented with relevant other documents from the archival and contemporary sources. By bringing into light, the documents and materials which otherwise would remain inaccessible, it is hoped, people interested in the issue will be able to have more awareness and take informed decision to give a positive impact on the impasse surrounding the issue.

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