Thursday, 3 September 2015

Manipur Unrest | Reasons, ILP and the Bills, Solutions

Why in news?
  • Violence in tribal districts after Manipur passed 3 bills — were brought in as substitutes to introducing the Inner Line Permit, or ILP:
  • 3 major tribal bodies of the State — 
    • the Kuki Students’ Organization, 
    • the All Naga Students’ Association Manipur and 
    • the All Tribal Students’ Union Manipur — 
      • had called a 12-hour total bandh in all hill districts. 
  • Many killed and houses of legislators, including the state health minister, were set on fire in the tribal district of Churachandpur. 
The Bills and concerns raised: (brought as a substitute for ILP)
For details on ILP - CLICK HERE

  • Two people involved --> Non tribals politically influential Meitei in Imphal valley AND Tribals (Mainly tribes in hill districts) - 
    • the interests of these two do not converge --> So hardly any conversation --> Administration read this silence wrongly as acceptance -->  between the two sections on the issue. 
    • The muted reaction in the hill districts to the valley’s push for the ILPS was read by the administration as acceptance, which wasn’t the case. 
    • At the core of the ILPS demand was the fear that inward migration was turning Manipuris into a minority in Imphal Valley.
  • Three Bills
    • Protection of Manipur Peoples Bill, 2015
      • on the basis of land records and so on. 
      • The new bills set 1951 as the base year to identify non-Manipuris on the basis of land records and so on.
        • But people of hill districts have newer records and for them this was sort of a ploy to declare them as non-indigenous and expel them from their homeland
    • Manipur Land Revenue & land Reforms (Seventh Amendment) Bill, 2015--
      • Kuki and Naga see this as an attempt by Meitei to gain access to scheduled hill districts.  
      • Kuki and Naga see this as an attempt by Meitei to gain access to scheduled hill districts. 
      • Tribal organisations maintain that as long as Article 371C exists, no land Bill brought by the Manipur government can be applicable in any of the five Hill districts.
    • Manipur Shop & Establishment (Second Amendment) Bill, 2015.
  • The three bills together replaced the controversial Manipur Regulation of Visitors, Tenants and Migrant Workers’ Bill 2015, which was withdrawn after widespread protests. 
  • The laws that sought to address the grievance of the residents of Imphal Valley, where 60 per cent of Manipur resides, were seen as inimical to the interests of the various tribes that live in the hill districts. 
Other concerns:
  • ILP is Meitei demand, which tribal organisations suspected was the first step in a Meitei plan to acquire ST  status, thus rendering the tribal privileges in the state meaningless.
  • The tribals have traditionally felt marginalised by the dominant Meiteis, who control the fertile valley and its businesses, dominate the administration, and occupy 40 seats in the Assembly — double the number of Hills MLAs.
  • The Hill districts are underdeveloped and poor, and tribals have for decades complained that most development funds are hogged by the valley. The Hills have only sporadic, if any, electricity supply, few roads, enterprises, and schools, and follow traditional jhoom cultivation practices.
  • For the first time in decades, hostile rivals Nagas and Kukis have come together to fight whom they consider their common enemy — the Meitei. They have formed a coordination committee under the umbrella of All Tribal Students Union of Manipur to continue their agitation.
Why Meitis must be against other tribals?
  • The Meiteis’ grouse is that apart from land, 22% of government jobs are reserved for the tribes and SC. 
  • The pressure on land in the Imphal valley has been the main driver of the ILP agitation, as well as the reason for hostility towards tribals.
  • While Meiteis can’t buy land in tribal areas, tribals can — and often do — buy land in the valley --- so Meitis are coming up with such measures
Background: The State’s Demography
  • ~60% Manipur population of just over 27 lakh comprises Meiteis; the Naga, Kuki and Zomi tribes make up the rest. 
  • Meiteis are dominant in the Imphal valley (the four districts of Imphal West, Imphal East, Thoubal and Bishnupur), which covers only 2,248 sq km (10%) of Manipur’s total 22,327 sq km. The Meitei population is largely Hindu; the tribals are mostly Christian.
  • Among themselves, Manipur’s 33-odd tribes (40% of the state’s population) own 90% of its land — and this is where the source of tension between the Hills and valley peoples lies.

 Possible Solutions:
  • Implement the Sixth Schedule in the hill areas.  
    • Under such a political arrangement, the Kukis and Nagas would enjoy autonomy in their respective areas but remain within the State of Manipur. 
  • Sensitive to the social diversity of the state and 
  • Engage all sections while making policy. 
    • Land continues to dominate the political imagination of the state. Protests centred on the fear of land alienation produce a siege mentality, which prevents the diversification of the economy. 
  • The administration must break this dismal cycle to expand the state’s economy and generate employment.
 [Ref: The Hindu, Indian Express]

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