Ukhrul: The fourth round of the Hill Areas Committee public consultative meet on the HAC proposed Manipur (Hill Areas) ADC Bill 2021 has been held on Wednesday at Ukhrul town hall.
Organised by Tangkhul Mayar Ngala Long, the meet began with prayer pronounced by Rev. Fr. Mayonpam Gabriel, parish priest Sacred heart Hungpung, while Rev. Dr. Mathotmi Vasha, Executive secretary TBCA said the benediction.
The programme was attended by ATSUM president Paotinthang Lupheng and EM, KSO GHQ general secretary Stony Seiboi, ANSAM presidents Wanglar Thiirtung and EM, Tangkhul Naga Long, Tangkhul Naga Wungnao Long, Tangkhul Katamnao Saklong, church leaders, public and various political leaders of the district.
Speaking at the meet as one of the key speaker, Leishiyo Keishing, chairman HAC and MLA of 43-Phungyar AC said that the ongoing pursuit is not at all for taking political milage. “Election is a different issue. This issue concerns the collective rights of the tribal people and has to be tabled. Don’t go after any political parties that do not support the legitimate right of the tribal people.”
The world is changing, however, we tribals continued to be in static position. After every five years, we elect a new leader but no changes is visible. In which direction tribal people are heading towards. A time has come to see through the roadmap clearly and march ahead, Keishing urged.
He lamented those elements that are acting as a shadow to the bright new dawn meaning to undermine and roadblock the passage of the bill not knowing what they are talking in tv shows and WhatsApp. They are creating confusion to the public. Do they truly understands the nitty gritty of the bill when we have been doing all that we could to ensure that the proposed bill is tabled and passed as an Act, for the last four and half years. With the intent to gain one vote and earn ticket they have been questioning the timing of the bill or whether they could not be party to the bill.
This is a public issue and not election intended bill, he reiterated, and appeal not to go after any political parties that abuse or do not support this bill if you are truly for the rights of the tribal people.
Unveiling the objective of the proposed bill, he stated that the bill aims to empower and give more autonomy to the tribals and the district councils.
Somatai Machinao, president TMNL welcomed and thanked the HAC members and senior politician TN. Haokip, HAC chairman Leishiyo Keishing, HAC sub-committee chairman, Alfred Kanngam Arthur, ATSUM, KSO-GHQ, ANSAM, TKS, district CSOs and public for their participation and support for the cause.
Delivering a short speech, Paotinthang Lupheng saying that he found the crowd intimidating, lauded the unceasing support, resolve and resilience of the Ukhrul CSOs towards the cause of the tribals. “When others failed to withstand the tactics of the government, Ukhrul show the way through their unity. “It seems like Ukhrul people is the last man standing. Whatever you had sacrificed is for the good of the tribal brethren and for yourself.”
As part of our agitation we have boycotted Manipur’s government “Go To Hill” initiative but it was found that government had no inclination to tabled the bill. The government will not tabled the bill. “This bill has to be tabled no matter what.”
Making a fervent appeal to choose their representative wisely, he had urged to elect only those MLAs or political parties that support and advocate the bill.
Alleging that government had no desired to tabled the bill, he said it will be compelled to resort to undemocratic means and ensure that the bill is tabled. “Passage of the bill will usher redemption and undo the prolonged suppression and exploitation.”
Speaking at the occasion, HAC Sub-Committee chairman Alfred Kanngam Arthur who is also the sitting MLA of 44-Ukhrul stated that all the Hill Areas Committee had assured him of their full consensus over the matter, adding that this is the fourth district consultative meet on HAC bill 2021.
Commenting on the legislature supremacy in making laws for the people, he said that HAC members after taking due consideration decided to table the proposed HAC Bill 2021 and passed it as an Act in the recent assembly session. “
Where had that bill gone? Can a person who is not party to the affairs of the assembly be made to review the bill? This is unconstitutional. If any commissioners, or additional secretary etc could take up and performed the role of law makers (legislature whose role is to make law for the people), then better dissolved the assembly and let people outside assembly performed its role, he demanded, while decrying the snail pace and disinterest exhibited by the Manipur government in tabling the HAC recommended Manipur (Hill Areas) ADC bill 2021.
Elaborating on the HAC recommended Manipur (Hill Areas) ADC bill 2021, Alfred stated that India being a pluralistic society, be it Kuki, Meitei, Naga, Hindu and Muslim; what one owned needs to be honoured. “The custom, tradition, culture and existing practices and norms of each entity are of the same. These entity can remained as the way it wants and stay how they want, and it is still recognised in India given the pluralistic nature. And because of this pluralistic nature Articles 371C was inserted.”
These is the crux of Indian society and not secularism. Secularism is a religion and a person can change his religion with times.
Highlighting the public about the gross imbalance in the budget allocation of valley and hill areas, MLA Kanngam stressed that “hill areas represent only one-third representatives in the 60-member Assembly. 90 per cent of the State area is under the hill areas.”
Asserting that “valley areas got the bigger chunk in the budgetary allocation of the state, Alfred asked the public whether they still wants to remained in the same old system even after 50 years where no tangible changes in the lives of the tribal people is visible in the spectrum. Let the old system go and welcome the new one’s through the proposed HAC Bill.
He also wanted to know if State government is provided consistent budget for the hill area to ensure that people had the scope and space to develop and ensure sustenance like the valley people. ” Budget is the key towards creating sustenance and ensuring better livelihoods.”
HAC proposed bill in no way meant breaking the integrity of the state. This legitimate exercise was to allowed and accomodate each to have what has been guaranteed by the constitution, and nothing more.
Alfred said this referring to the budget allocation for hill and valley areas of the state starting 2017 to 2021 including agriculture, soil conservation, forest and environment, eco tourism, healthcare, and education, among others.
“The very essence of HAC is to safeguard the rights of the tribal people of Manipur,” he maintained.
Taking a potshot at the prevailing free flow culture of contract (tikka), he had made a clarion call to the visiting ATSUM, KSO and ANSAM team to visit any high school in Ukhrul district other than model high school and Ukhrul higher secondary which is located in Ukhrul HQ saying every place you landed you will find them in the same poor condition even if it is upgraded to higher secondary or college because as it is done purely for ‘contract purpose. “It has no share for the people as the work is for mla, worker and mantri only.”
Talking about the significance of Rule Book, he said everything sprang from the “Rule of procedures and conduct of business in Manipur Legislative Assembly” including water, electricity etc even the existence of chief minister et al.
Making a specified observation of the content in the Rule Book page no. 160 concerning 2nd Schedule with reference to matters to be exercised by the HAC, he stressed on two points namely “Development and Economy Planning within the plan allocation of the Hill Areas, and Constitution and Powers and Functioning of the District Council in the hill areas.”
The first point all the finances shared meant for the development of the hill areas in the State should be a subject of the Hill Areas Committee (HAC). While the second point explains that existing ADC of the District Council is 100 per cent a schedule matter of the HAC, he stated, adding that “Functions of the HAC” mentioned in the page 156 said that all the schedule matters which concerns or relates to hill areas shall be within the purview of the Hill Areas Committee.
Delivering a speech, MLA TN. Haokip maintained that majoritarian rule is the main stumbling block towards the passage of the bill. “Past and present leaders are not to be blamed for the present imbroglio.”
He said the recommended bill is a constitutionally guaranteed rights for the tribal people.
He made this statement while detailing the historical account of Manipur’s statehood and the tribal people of Manipur.
Chonchon Varah and Yursari Ngalung entertained the public with their special hits. Thotchuingam Kasar and Yarmila Sayai moderated the program.