MTFD PRESS RELEASE
Apropos of the attempt by the Manipur Government to pass a new bill, viz. Manipur Regulation of Non-Local People Bill 2016 in the forthcoming Session of the Assembly, the Manipur Tribals' Forum Delhi (MTFD) would like to state its position as under:-
1. The tribal people of Manipur have no trust or confidence in the present Government under Shri O. Ibobi Singh. This is the Government that sought to rush through the three anti-tribal bills. Only when the attempt did not succeed they draft a new bill without changing the substance in the old bill, which was withheld by the President, with the same anti-tribal motives. It is nothing but 'old wine in a new bottle'.
2. The nine tribal martyrs who died in the protests that followed the passage of the three anti-tribal bills in the Manipur Assembly are still lying in the morgue in Churachandpur, awaiting their honourable burial. The attempt to push through a new bill affecting the Hill Areas by pretending as if everything is normal, is a slap in the face of the tribal people who are still mourning their martyrs. It is the tribal culture that while dead bodies are still lying unburied, all activities are suspended as a sign of collective mourning. Keeping aside the unresolved issues of the Martyrs as well as the demand of the tribal peoples and trying to introduce a new bill is tantamount to a collective humiliation of the entire tribal people of Manipur.
3. The tribal people of the State will oppose any Bill that affects the Hill Areas unless Manipur Assembly is democratized. How can we expect any Bill passed in Manipur Assembly to be democratic when the Tribal representative are underrepresented against the Constitutional guidelines of Article 332? The roots of many problems in the State lies in the fact that the value of one valley vote is equivalent to 3 tribal vote. GoI must address this critical issue for lasting peace in the region.
4. The JAC Against the Anti-tribal Bills(JACAATB) and other tribal bodies have submitted their demands for resolution of the present crisis and for honourable burial of the martyrs. The Government did not bother to look into them seriously till today. None of the ministers from the Chief Minister downwards in the present Government deem it fit to visit the morgue or pay respect to the martyrs who died defending tribal rights.
5. Unless and untill the issues arising out of the passing of The Three Anti-Tribals Bills are addressed, it is unacceptable for the tribals to participate in the dicussion of any bill which will affect the Hill Areas of Manipur.
6. Hence, the Government should first take steps to address the conditions laid out for the burial of the martyrs, viz. Justice for the martyrs in term of punishing those responsible for their death as per law, and provide protection and safeguard for the Hill Areas of Manipur, in the same way as other tribal areas in the region, for which they have laid down their lifes. If the Manipur Assembly went ahead and pass any bill affecting the Hill Areas and should any untoward incidents followed, the Government will be squarely held responsible for the consequences.
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