Manipur Tribals Forum (Delhi)
1. On 31 August, 2015, the Manipur Assembly passed three bills following sustained protests in the Manipur valley districts demanding the implementation of Inner Line Permit (ILP) system for the State. The three bills, taken together, will directly undermine the existing safeguards for the tribal ‘hill areas’ regarding land-ownership and population influx as the primary threat for the tribal people comes not from outside the state but the valley Meitei people itself.
Video shows security personnel shooting down a protester
Repression let loose on tribals protesting against anti-tribal legislation and demanding ‘separate administration’. State violence claimed nine lives; picture shows slain body of protester lying in the middle of the road.
The tribal people have made their opposition to the Meitei demands clear. But, the tribal people were never consulted by the ‘Joint Committee’ which have been spearheading the demands, nor the Manipur Government which accepts them. The tribal MLAs in the Assembly, fearing for their lives, dare not oppose the Bills when the Bills were introduced and passed in the Assembly.
One of the nine killed
2. The Hill Areas Committee (HAC), comprising of all tribal MLAs, which was set up under Article 371C of the Constitution to protect tribal interests and whose concurrence is mandatory for all legislation affecting tribal areas, was summarily brushed aside.
3. This instance has sparked off a strong opposition from all the tribal people of Manipur across the state. It flared up emotion into violent reaction against their representative tribal MLAs.The state government, instead of explaining the contents of the amendment and pacifying the agitators used its naked force to suppress the tribals leading to the death of 9 young lives, untold miseries, and uncontrolled human rights violations across the hills.
9 year old victim
4. The brutal reaction of the state forces against the peaceful mass agitation has caused the loss of precious lives of nine students and several number of the agitators were left with serious injury. In a clear case of broad daylight repression and discrimination, the state forces used real bullets to disperse the protesters whereas rubber bullets were used when there was a protest in the valley. You might have seen various reports in the national media and social media networks testifying to the brutality of the state forces in dealing with the situation.
Cartridges used by the Manipur commandoes
5. Through passing the Bill and brutal suppression of the tribal agitators, the State Government has shown its real intention to grab the lands of the tribal people which have been so far protected by the Constitution of India. It also shows a clear case of the present Ibobi government’s incompetence to govern the state.
We, the Manipur Tribals Forum, Delhi, have demanded from the Government of India the following:
i. To immediately impose President’s Rule in Manipur
ii. To punish those state security forces involved in the brutal killing of the agitators.
iii. To immediately withdraw the Manipur Police commandos from all tribal areas and if need be, deploy central forces.
iv. Restoration of all villages transferred to valley district to their original hill districts.
v. To expeditiously act on the demands for ‘separate administration’ for the tribal areas of Manipur. This is a proof, if any more are needed, that the hill tribals and the plain Meiteis cannot live together under one administration.
The movement has been going on ever since the bills had been passed on the 31st of Aug. 2015. We also would like to clarify that the bills are nothing but a spark that starts the fire from the smoke of discrimination and repression that have accumulated ever since the Manipur state was constituted. Therefore, for the success of our movement, your support as the representative of our brothers in Nagaland is crucial. It is with outmost respect and dignity that we have come to you in faith and trust.
T. Romeo Hmar & J. Maivio
Convenor & Co-Convenor
Manipur Tribals Forum, Delhi
[Via UMin Paite Vualnam]