Senapati: A one day Public Consultative Meeting on Hill Area Committee recommended ADC Bill, 2021 was held at Ecological Park, Mayangkhang with HAC members, CSO leaders and student leaders of the hill. The program was organised by the Senapati District Students Association (SDSA) under the aegis of the All Tribal Students Union, Manipur (ATSUM).
Pung Mark, president, SDSA in his welcome address stated that the recommended Manipur ADC bill of the HAC will decide the fate of the future of the hill which is more important for young people and for the generations to come. The student leader called such gathering as important as the experts share their thoughts.
In his keynote address, S.R. Andria, general secretary, ATSUM stated that the student body since its inception has moved along asserting the rights of the tribal of the state given under the constitution of India. Their rights is stated to be denied for so long that the tribal has every right to claim for it including reservation of seats in prestigious colleges, institutions, govt service or larger aspect of land and forest as given under Article 371 (C) of the Indian Constitution. The HAC members have come up to safeguard the rights of the tribal in the state. Mention may be made that the ATSUM had called for indefinite blockade in the past for not tabling the HAC recommended Manipur ADC Bill, 2021. The constitution has been reportedly amended many times in the past but according to the wishes of the majority community of the state and not in the interest of the tribal. The bill as stated by the student leader is not to disintegrate the state as claimed by valley based CSOs but was made in accordance to provisions given under the Indian Constitution. With the need to mend the huge disparity between the hills and the valley compelled the hills apex student body to take up such step who sought for collective movement together till the goal is achieved.
MLA T.N. Haokip in his address stated that with the coming of the ADC in the hills, things might not be like the present if the operation was made according to 6th schedule provision as given in the Northeast states where the tribals are minority. During the 1990s, the tribal leaders put up the question if the ADC is operated under state mercy and not as given in 6th schedule, “No 6th schedule, no election” campaign was launched and banned in the hills of Manipur for 20 years as a blanket ban. Another type of amended bill, said to be better than 6th schedule was introduced during the Congress regime but could not be implement in principle. The tribal wants to live in love and peace by implementing ADC Bill, 2021 into an act in the state, he added.
MLA Alfred Arthur who is also the Sub Committee chairman of the HAC stated that the pain of the tribal made him courageous to stand for their rights. All of the steps that the state govt is pretending to give to the tribal is stated to be an illusion. Anything that is under the hill shall remain in the purview of Hill Areas Committee. The Rule book entitles all rights for every citizen in the state to enjoy benefits from the govt and through it, every individual enjoys the rights as given in the Rule book. Govt of India thinks that the Rule book is followed in Manipur. However, it is opposite in actual practices relating to schedule matters. Supreme Court order says that “Any order which has been signed by none other than the President of India can only be reviewed, amended or repealed only by an act of parliament.” The irony is that tribal do not understand and realise the power that they are entitled and regretted that such power was not implemented during the last 45-46 years. Judge of the Supreme Court had reportedly given a 9 page written paper as legally cleared to the HAC recommended Manipur ADC Bill, 2021. It is stated not as a demand but a right of the tribal, Alfred added.
He further said that the HAC team led by its Chairman Leishiyo Keishing had reportedly apprised the nation’s president including the Union Home minister where the Union Home minister questioned why the matter was brought at the end of the tenure. The HAC team had reportedly informed him the matter was delayed till date although put up since the beginning of the BJP led govt in the state. The CM had reportedly assured again and again not to bypass adding “Constitution is supreme” where the house and the HAC members are the witnesses. From the first assembly session, the members had reportedly been asking why bypassing the HAC, economic planning and development had not been referred in the HAC. The voice of the HAC including the UNC, Kuki Inpi, ATSUM, ANSAM, KSO and all its sub ordinates and federating units represents all tribal of the state, he said. The HAC leader also denounced the fabricated bogus budget when it was presented during budget session in the state assembly referring to the disparity of budget applying in the hills and the valley. While the govt of India had given the rights of the tribal under Article 371 (C), the HAC leader lamented over the non compliance of such rules under HAC in the state that is the rights of the tribal. Alfred sought the cooperation of all to join hands together so as to make progressive and sustainable environment in the land as he join the fight for the rights of the tribal. “So many decades had passed without realising these rights”, he said with regret but at the same time glad that the present generation has come to realise how people should fight for their rights.
47-Karong A/C MLA D.D. Thaisii in his address stated that when one read the Article 371 (C) and Presidential Order, HAC is operational only in Manipur and not in other parts of the country with ADC different from 5th schedule and 6th schedule. The recommended draft of the HAC was reportedly made by a team of Supreme Court Judges through efforts and resources which was reportedly made within the constitution of India and within the ambit of Article 371 (C). Around 50 years had passed without achieving the target to bring out the rights of the tribal in the state, he said adding preparation took 4 and half years since the beginning of the 11th state assembly. The recommended bill of the HAC was not tabled in the state assembly and also not referred to Governor as placed by the HAC as given in the constitution. The MLA also sought all tribal to join hands together and stand united in fight for the rights of the tribal and creating mass awareness to the public through mass mobilization.
MLA T.N. Haokip, MLA D.D. Thaisii, MLA Alfred Arthur, MLA N. Kayisii, former ADC members, representatives from ATSUM, ANSAM, KSO-GHQ and their federating units attended the program.