Bill nixed due to wrong definition of Manipuri

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Bill nixed due to wrong definition of Manipuri

THE HINDU: A contentious legislation passed by the Manipur Assembly last year to define who is a "Manipuri" was rejected by President Pranab Mukherjee recently as the definition was found to be "incorrect," a senior government official said.

The official told The Hindu that the definition of a "Manipuri" proposed by the State was based on the census conducted in 1951, which is flawed as the census exercise that year did not cover the entire State. "The infrastructure at that time was not enough and many people were left out in the process. The computation was not exhaustive. If we go by 1951 records, half of the tribes would be declared stateless."

As per the Bill, "Manipur people means persons of Manipur whose names are in the National Register of Citizens, 1951, Census report 1951 and village directory of 1951 and their descendants who have contributed to the collective social, cultural and economic life of Manipur."

The passage of this Bill with two others, The Manipur Land Revenue and Land Reforms (Seventh Amendment Bill), 2015 and The Manipur Shops and Establishments (Second Amendment Bill) 2015 in September 2015, had triggered violence last year, leading to the death of nine people. Their bodies are still being preserved by their families in protest.

Manipur merged with India on October 15, 1949. Before the merger, entry into the State was regulated by a permit system, which was later abolished.

The other ground on which the Bill was rejected was that it was passed by the Assembly as a "Money Bill" and not sent to the Hill Areas Committee for consultation.

An official said as per rules, any Bill concerning people living in the hills of Manipur has to be vetted by the panel. The Home Ministry advised the President to reject the Bill on these grounds. The Bill also proposed to appoint a Director to register "non-Manipur" people and "owners who provide accommodation to the tenants (non-Manipur)."

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