Three tribal apex bodies on Friday have petitioned the President of India to either disapprove or withhold the three anti-tribal Bills sent to him by the Government of Manipur for securing his assent in the interest of the people.

“We learn that the three Bills recently passed by the Manipur State Assembly on August 31, 2015 viz the Protection of Manipur Peoples Bill, 2015; the Manipur Land Revenue and Land Reforms (Seventh Amendment) Bill, 2015; and the Manipur Shops and Establishment (Second Amendment) Bill, 2015 are refered to your honour for consideration by the State Government on Sept 17, 2015. In this regard, it may be mentioned that the three Bills are unconstitutional and it infringes on the tribal rights, particularly the rights of the hill tribes of Manipur State,’ said the memo jointly sent by the Zomi Council, Hmar Inpui and Kuki Inpi, Churachandpur.

Elaborating their argument, the memo said the content and spirit of the Bills demonstrate the continued anti-tribal policy of the State Government, and if implemented more than 80 percent of the hill tribes will become ‘non-Manipuri’ or ‘Foreigner’ simply because it has set 1951 as the base year for identification of the ‘people of Manipur.’

It further argued that none of the hill tribes in the State were given official recognition before 1956 and in 1951 there was just one Deputy Commissioner for the entire State who functioned from Imphal. Besides, at that point of time not a single village directory was maintained and most of the hill villages were inaccessible, it added.

The apex bodies also highlighted before the President that there exist distinctive land ownership between the hill tribes and the valley dwellers in Manipur. The valley areas follow private land ownership whereas in the hill areas the tribes follow traditional Chiefship and collective land ownership system, and as such the three Bills infringe on such traditional practices of the tribes.

It will also undermine the existing local Government in the Hill areas under Autonomous District Council Act, 1971 and the Special Provision guaranteed under Article 371C, it said.

-Sangai Express

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