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JAC Press Release 2nd January 2016

Saturday, January 2, 2016

/ Published by VIRTHLI

Press Release 
Lamka, the 2nd January, 2016 
[Transcript by Virthli]

On 29th December, 2015 an 18-member delegation team from the Joint Action Committee Against Anti-Tribal Bills (JAC), responding to the request from the Chief Minister (No 2/7/2015-CM dated 24 December, 2015) to discuss the three Anti-Tribal Bills and its related issues, attended a meeting held at the Chief Minister's Secretariat.

The JAC, in its effort to address any possible issue of information asymmetry between the JAC and the general public, would like to make the following brief report of the meeting along with the JAC's conclusion on the same.

The meeting was held in the presence of the Chief Minister and his non-tribal cabinet ministers wherein the JAC had reiterated, through a letter it submitted to the Chief Minister, the demand of the joint innpis/tribe councils to the State Government to convene a special assembly session of the Manipur State Legislative Assembly within ten days from now to deliberate and take necessary decisions and actions as per the JAC's Charter of Demands submitted to the Manipur Government earlier on the 9th November, 2015 and also resubmitted the same.

In his introductory speech in the meeting, the Chief Minister mentioned that the State Government is looking forward for a permanent solution to the current impasse. He added, "We have known that the Bills will not be accepted by the Centre Government. All the Citizens of India have the right to settle in any part of the territory of India." On this count the JAC team lamented by saying, "How irresponsible the august house of the Manipur State Assembly has become by passing the Bills even after knowing that the Centre government will not accept it!"

The Chief Minister told the team that the State government has difficulty in meeting the demands of the tribal representatives since the three Anti-Tribal Bills were passed due to pressures from CorCom, a conglomeration of proscribed Meitei militant groups operating out of Myanmar. As reiterated by the Chief Minister, this is a clear indication that the Manipur State Government is in no position to find a sustainable permanent solution to the current problems facing the tribals of Manipur, nor most of its present ailments as its policies are controlled from Myanmar!

While replying to the JAC's earlier insistence for a representative from the Ministry of Home Affairs to witness the talks with the Manipur Government, the Chief Minister said that such an arrangement is not acceptable due to the federal set-up of the country. The JAC had always insisted on such a witness as the Manipur Government has a notorious record of signing numerous memorandums of understanding (MOUs) and making various commitments which never saw the light of day. He expressed that although any involvement from the Centre Government or other state governments that may result in providing permanent solutions to the problems of the tribal people of Manipur is always appreciated, however, the State Government is against the notion of holding tripartite talks with various parties to solve problems which it deems are internal to the State.

When the JAC team tried to bring up the various issues pertaining to the three Anti-Tribal Bills by quoting certain clauses and sections, the Chief Minister and his non-tribal cabinet ministers replied by saying that they are not legal experts, and would have to consult the concerned experts for such a discussion. The Chief Minister and his non-tribal cabinet requested the JAC team to provide a detailed document outlining the parts of the three Bills that were deemed anti-tribal, and the JAC team had agreed to furnish the same.

The JAC delegation ended the meeting by re-emphasising and insisting that the Chief Minister and his non-tribal cabinet convene a Special Assembly Session to discuss the Charter of Demands submitted earlier so that a meaningful dialogue can be initiated with the Manipur Government.

However, the big question that arises out of the meeting is whether the Manipur Government is run by the elected representatives of the State or remote-controlled from a neighbouring country. Therefore, although the JAC is still open to initiate meaningful dialogue with the Manipur Government, it is very apprehensive of arriving at any possible sustainable solution to the current impasse with the Manipur Government and presently sees the direct intervention from the Centre Government as the only possible permanent solution for the tribals of Manipur.

Information and Publicity Department

[Transcript by Virthli]

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