JOINT ACTION COMMITTEE
AGAINST ANTI-TRIBAL BILLS

Press Release
Lamka, March 15, 2016

The Joint Action Committee Anti-Tribal Bills (JAC) would like to make the following open reply to the letter from the Deputy Commissioner: Churachandpur (No. DC(CCP)/Jdl/95-2:/1120) dated 14th March, 2016:
1. That, the JAC fails to comprehend how the Traditional Gun Salute, the highest form of traditional respect shown towards our departed tribal leaders/heroes could have so conveniently been referred to as an act of "indiscriminate firing," that too within tribal territory, overwhelmingly dominated by tribals, and under a tribal Deputy Commissioner!
2. That, the JAC press release dated 9th and 13th March, 2016 respectively clearly specified the use of gun powders only; we fail to see anything "unlawful" in the tribal practice of paying homage to our Tribal Martyrs through a Traditional Gun Salute using gun powder, nor can we grasp the reason why this age-old tribal practice can be termed as "misutilisationof licensed arms".
3. That, bearing in mind the possible safety issues involved in such an activity, the timing for the Traditional Gun Salute has been consciously scheduled for 9:00 a.m. of 18th March, 2016 at the respective homes of the licensed gun owners, while the same could have been planned after nightfall and out in the streets.
4. That, in order to avoid any possible "misunderstanding and confusion between the JAC, Public and different Security forces" and other armed groups, two separate press release have already been issued in intimation of the planned Traditional Gun Salute as per the tribal tradition.
5. That, the sound of gun shots are in no way alien to the citizens of Lamka, thanks to the Border Security Force's Subsidiary Training Center in the vicinity which has helped us get acquainted with such sounds. Adding to this are the occasional indiscriminate blank firings like the ones made by the 7th Bn. Assam Rifles posted at Headquarters Veng, Lamka during Diwali (midnight of 20th October, 2015) wherein their stray bullet punctured the roof of a residential building of Pearsonmun, Lamka. As such, performing Traditional Gun Salute as a mark of respect and homage to the nine Tribal Martyrs in accordance with the tribal tradition, we strongly believe, will in no way hamper or disturb the prevailing atmosphere.
6. That, it is rather hypocritical and deceitful on the part of the Government to quickly declare the age-old tribal practice of Traditional Gun Salute to a departed tribal leader/hero as "unlawful" and eligible to "attract provisions of the Arms Act 1959 and Arms Rule 1962" while they themselves are still refusing to book the IRB/Manipur Police personnel responsible for the killing our Tribal Martyrs.
With the Government starting to question even our age-old practices and traditions, and refusing to acknowledge the unique identities of the various tribal communities, the question that invariably crosses each tribal's mind is whether the very existence of tribals in Manipur have become a pressing problem for the Manipur Government.

Information and Publicity Department


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