Sun, Feb 19, 2017 | updated 07:45 PM IST

Manipur Tribals in Delhi observe 'Tribal Unity Day'

Updated: Sep 01, 2016 13:25 IST

By Vangamla Salle K S

New Delhi [India], Sept. 1 (ANI): The Manipur Tribals Forum (MTFD), Delhi observed the historic "Tribal Unity Day" at the Jantar Mantar in New Delhi on Wednesday to mark the one-year anniversary of Outer Manipur hill/tribal peoples' movement against the Manipur Government for passing three anti-tribal bills and justice for the nine tribal martyrs.

In a press release, the MTFD stated that the act of attempting to pass a new bill by the Manipur Government under Chief Minister Ibobi Singh, without any justice for the nine martyrs, clearly indicates the state government's intention to completely suppress and silence the voice of the tribal people of the state. Hence, MTFD and the hill/tribal people have no option but to conclude that the state government is only for the valley people and not for the hill people.

The tribal forum has further pointed that the tribal people of the state would oppose any bill that would affect the hill areas.

The root cause of many problems in the state lies in the fact that the value of one valley vote is equivalent to three tribal votes. This is against the Constitutional provision of Article 332 which provides for equal representation. MTFD is convinced that equal representation of the tribal/hill people vis-a-vis the valley people is sine qua non for successful functioning of democracy in Manipur and appeals to the Government of India to address this critical issue without further delay.

The nine tribal martyrs who lost their lives fighting against the anti-tribal bills are still lying unburied, awaiting justice. The state government has not allowed even the filing of an FIR despite orders from the High Court.

MTFD appeals to the conscience of the Government of India and in order to give justice to the tribal martyrs, immediately accede to the long-standing demand of extension of Sixth Schedule to the Constitution of India in the hill districts of outer Manipur.

The powers and provisions of the Sixth Schedule should be powerful enough to protect the interests of the tribals in the state so as to free them from the exploitative hands of the valley people and the Manipur Government. Any political party or entity that negates the legitimate and constitutionally mandated safeguards to the tribal people of the State would be construed as anti-tribal party or entity.

It is pertinent to mentioned here, Manipur is the only state in the north-east, which has never governed by the provisions of either the Fifth Schedule or the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution.

The autonomy granted to the district councils under the Manipur (Hill Areas) District Council Act, 1971 is only in name". However, the issue of Sixth Schedule has always been a contentious issue in Manipur as the majority Meiteis opposes the Sixth Schedule on the ground that this will be precursor to the attainment of Kuki state and Nagalim (Greater Nagaland).

The district councils of Manipur had received an inadequate amount of fund from the state government in the forms of 'grant-in-aid', non-release or late-release of the fund. These made the district councils could not function its general administration; forget about various other developmental works.

This system of administration continued for until the boycott of district council elections in 1980s. The council elections were held in 2010 after successfully boycotted for more than two decades.

MTFD strongly urges the Indian Government to seriously consider the hill/tribal peoples' aspiration for total separation from the state of Manipur. The conduct of the Manipur Government as well as the valley people has, time and again, proven that the hill and the valley people cannot coexist under one administrative unit. Therefore, total separation of hill and valley people/areas is the only lasting and permanent solution to the problem of hill-valley divides.

Unless the above legitimate concerns of the tribal people are addressed by the concerned authority, the hill/tribal people will continue with the ongoing democratic movement. MTFD reiterates its unwavering commitment for the tribal cause and would not give up until justice is achieved and our problems are resolved once and for all. (ANI)

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