Senapati: Different villages of Senapati in a symbolic support of the Manipur (Hill Areas) ADC Bill, 2021 with banner and placards asked the state legislative assembly to table the bill at the earliest. Reports reached here where Laii villages neighbouring Phek district, Nagaland in the west and bordering Jessami, Ukhrul district in the east and Chingmai Khunou (Zhobumai) village bordering Chingjaroi, Ukhrul district. Some village leaders shouted slogan as they support the Manipur (Hill Areas) ADC Bill, 2021 while some urged the state govt to table the bill at the earliest time possible.
Addressing media persons, Pung Mark, President, Senapati District Students Association (SDSA) stated that they express their resentment and show their support the Manipur (Hill Areas) ADC Bill, 2021, recommended by the Hill Area Committee (HAC). The district student body sincerely and honestly appealed the govt of Manipur to convene a special session in the legislative assembly and table the said bill. Different associations and CSOs of hill districts under the umbrella of All Tribal Students Union, Manipur.
In a press communiqué issued by Khaiminlen Doungel, Information and Publicity Secretary, ATSUM stated in continuation of the ongoing movement for securing the Constitutional Rights of Tribals vis-à-vis the demand to table the Manipur (Hill Areas) ADC Bill, 2021 recommended by Hill Areas Committee, ATSUM organised a symbolic demonstration in all tribal villages of the Manipur state today the 17th October 2021. This protest is in support of the ADC Bill, 2021 and in demand to convene a special session of Manipur Legislative Assembly to table and pass the said Bill at the earliest. Such collective support demonstrated by all the tribal villages in the state to this Bill which envisage equity in development is extremely significant considering that they are the fundamental institutions of the tribal populace, he stated.
Manipur being a multi ethnic state broadly divided into hills and valley, the administration of the state was distinctly arranged by the constitution of India to safeguard the interest of all ethnic communities. For which, even before the attainment of Manipur statehood, Section 52 of the erstwhile Government of Union Territories Act, 1963 provided a provision for constituting a Standing Committee of the Legislative Assembly of the Union Territory of Manipur consisting of members representing the Hill Areas. The Committee was empowered to look into affairs in the interest of the Hill Areas. Later, a year before the Union Territory of Manipur became a statehood in 1972, a special provision for continuation of the existing safeguard for the Hill Areas was incorporated in the Indian Constitution through Article 371 C in 1971.
In exercise of the powers conferred by Article 371C, Shri V.V. Giri, the then President of India promulgated the Manipur Legislative Assembly (Hill Areas Committee) order 1972. The Hill Areas Committee was thus entrusted to look into affairs of all scheduled matters in relation to the Hill Areas of the state. The listed scheduled matters include the “Constitution, power and functioning of District Councils in the Hill Areas” of Manipur. Therefore, the affairs of the Autonomous District Councils were constitutionally placed solely under the purview of the Hill Areas Committee.
The Manipur (Hill Areas) Autonomous District Councils Act, 1971, has been amended several times at the whims and interest of whichever Government of the day without considering the desired interest or aspiration of the hill people thereby defeating the given constitutional intentions and provisions for the last 49 years. However, the timely consciousness of the incumbent HAC members to assert their constitutional legislative mandate and thereby act with full responsibility, has given a ray of hope across the length and breadth of all the Hill Areas as comprised in the first schedule of the HAC order of 1972. Further, as authorized by the presidential HAC order 1972, the members of HAC across all political parties unanimously adopted the Manipur (Hill Areas) Autonomous District Councils Bill, 2021 on August 16 2021, which seeks to repeal and replace the Manipur (Hill Areas) Autonomous District Council Act, 1971.
The Bill was recommended by HAC on 17th August 2021 and placed before the state government to table in the last concluded Monsoon Session of the Assembly. However, to the dismay of the tribals, the Bill was abruptly denied illegally by the state government and ignored throughout the Monsoon Session.
Taking strong exception to the state government’s unconstitutional refusal to table the ADC Bill 2021, ATSUM has been unwaveringly spearheading a movement demanding the state government to table and pass the Bill into an Act. The movement started with calling 24 hours total shut down in all the hill districts on 23rd August 2021. Following the state’s continued apathy, a Tribal Consultative Meeting was held on 24th of August 2021 at Motbung which was followed by a series of consultations and declarations made in all the hill districts and boycotting thes state government’s appeasement oriented initiatives particularly the “Go to Hills 2.0” programme. During this historic collective tribal movement in the state, tribal populace have witnessed several turbulence from within and outside through various mechanisms and scheming to deter the collective movement. However, the tribal unity has not only sustained but grown stronger to understand and demand our constitutional and legitimate rights with the unceasing support and prayers of the tribal populace.
The HAC recommended ADC Bill 2021 is envisaged to promote the long overdue equitable development in the state of Manipur for the tribals by empowering the Autonomous District Councils. The Bill aims to bridge the disproportionate development between hills and valley of the state without disturbing any constitutional rights of the non-tribal population in the state.
ATSUM has every obligation to initiate and spearhead such tribal collective movement to secure our overdue rights and bridge our tribal disparity in development. We are deeply humbled and overwhelmed to witness the support and unity of all tribal villages in the state in voicing our demand to table and pass the Manipur (Hill Areas) Autonomous District Councils Bill, 2021 into an Act. This historic collective gesture will mark our new unity as we strive together until we achieve our constitutional goals.
We are extremely grateful to all the tribal villages, churches, ANSAM, KSO, ATSUM Federating units and various respective tribes’ student organisation for responding enormously to the clarion call of ATSUM to extend prayer support and symbolic demonstration in support of the HAC recommended ADC Bill 2021. We earnestly appeal to all the tribal Politicians, apex Hohos/Inpis, tribal Mothers, CSOs, Students’ Leaders/Communities and tribal populace to stay united and not succumb to lucrative material/monetary offerings etc. etc. over our rights.
We appeal to the state government to consider our rights as equal citizens and stop taking the tribal communities for a ride through policies of division and appeasement. Instead we appeal to the Government and the Governor to end this impasse immediately by summoning a special session to table and pass the Manipur (Hill Areas) Autonomous District Councils Bill, 2021 into an Act. Today’s support to the movement across the tribes and political parties in all the tribal villages of the state is a huge morale boost not only for ATSUM but for the tribals. This is the first step in rolling out our tribal movement in the state after ATSUM has been endorsed and mandated by all the different tribal communities living in the state of Manipur. We will leave no stone unturned to realize our goals as envisaged and protected by the Constitution of India, the student leader mentioned.
Tangkhul Katamnao Saklong (TKS) in response to ATSUM’s call stated that a total of 123 Tangkhul villages in Ukhrul district including 14 Kuki Villages in Ukhrul district supported the symbolic demonstration under one banner with solidarity.