Manipur Tribals’ Forum, Delhi
Dated: 10th February, 2016
At this critical juncture of our movement when we have progressed from the stage of telling our stories to negotiating for our demands, the Manipur Tribals’ Forum, Delhi (MTFD) would like to highlight the present status of our ongoing movement (particularly in Delhi) for the information and kind consideration of the public and the tribal leaders:
(1) The Forum is in the process of pursuing our rightful demands through various channels. On the political front, we have met with the President, Home Minister, MoS (Home), Joint Secretary (North-East), and other concerned officials multiple times; all of whom are now convinced that our grievances are genuine and need to be redressed. On the legal front, we have met with some of the most renowned legal and constitutional experts who have discussed our issue with us at length, and are ready to take up our issues as and when necessary.
(2) The Forum has also been working closely with a number of Members of Parliament, some of whom have already raised our issues in the Parliament which have greatly strengthened us in our negotiations with the Central Government. We are in the process of reaching out to more and more MPs to apprise them of the latest developments and continue seeking their support, with an eye on the upcoming Parliament session.
(3) Our discussions with the Central Government are now at a crucial and delicate stage. While we are serious about all our demands, our negotiations, for the immediate term, also center mainly on how to enable a respectable burial of our nine martyrs by ensuring that the causes they died for are addressed concretely.
(4) The Forum is also in the middle of a serious and intimate consultation with our tribal community elders, starting with Delhi, to reach a consensus on our immediate demands which includes the claims for constitutional safeguards that will protect our land and our rights. This may also be the basis by which we will attempt to reach closure on the martyrs’ burial.
(5) Meanwhile, our indefinite sit-in protest at Jantar Mantar continues.
While the MTFD acknowledges the need to give a respectable and honourable burial to our nine martyrs, it has always been our sincere endeavour to ensure that the causes that they died for are not in vain. It is in that light that we also highlight the following points:
(6) As of now, the Bills are with the Central Government and they have not given their assent. One of our immediate demand is for the Central Government to intervene and ensure that a High Level inquiry is conducted on the killing of the nine tribal martyrs and their killers punished as per law.
(7) The Forum has also higlighted the immediate need to place the Hill Areas of Manipur under the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution of India, under an empowered model which is powerful enough to guarantee autonomy to protect and promote the interests of all the tribals of Manipur.
(8) Till date, even though the Manipur Government had owned up to its culpability in the death of the nine martyrs by performing HiamKham, the culprits are yet to be brought to book. The MTFD has initiated the process of filing FIRs on the killing of the martyrs through the Court.
(9) Our long term political demand for separate administration remains and we are committed to fighting the long fight for the same.
(10) As per Article 371C of the Constitution of India, the Centre is vested with special powers to give “directions” to the State of Manipur on any matter affecting the Hill Areas.
After one hundred and sixty-three days of tribal unrest, let us be certain without a shred of doubt that the time and circumstances in which we choose to put our martyrs to rest be in the collective interest of all tribals and worthy of their sacrifice for our land, our rights, and our identity.
Long live, Tribal Unity!!
Information and Media Wing
Manipur Tribals’ Forum, Delhi (MTFD)