[box color=”green” type=”quote” color=”green”]If housed under the same roof, even the cats and dogs become intimate friends. When the peoples of hills and valley live together, share their problems, grief, prospects and gaiety; there will be emotional integration among the varied and numerous ethnic groups of Manipur. The Manipur Land Revenue & Land Reform Act, 1960 (MLR & LR Act, 1960) enacted by Parliament to consolidate and amend the law relating to land revenue in the State of Manipur and to provide certain measures of land reform has affected the peaceful co-existence, since the act is excluding the hill areas of the State. Moreover, the antagonism of the people residing at far-off hill areas towards the mainland dwellers has become more and more widened due to lack of road connectivity and physical progress. Even though huge amounts have been pumped in to improve connectivity and infrastructure at the remote hill areas of the state through schemes like Prime Minister’s Gram Sadak Yojana, real development hardly reaches the targeted locations and intended beneficiaries as a few well-to-do people ranging from high profile contractors to politicians remain reaping the fruits. Thus, people at the edge feel excluded from the mainland. At this juncture, it is highly necessary to allow the valley people to settle in hill areas to bring about emotional integration.[/box]
by Neken Singh Seram
Communal hatred and human right violations are the dual tribulations bothering the smooth sail of Manipur society today. In the name of insurgency as well as counter insurgency operations, innumerable numbers of innocent human beings have been killed, rendered disabled for life or made to disappear. Armed Forces Special Powers Act 1958 has been manifesting itself as a notorious challenge to secured existence of natives of this land. The Act which is completely in contradiction to democratic values has been in force in Manipur. Side by side, there has been a strong wedge among communities created by the non-extension of Manipur Land Revenue and land Reforms Act. in the hill areas. It is now questionable why the AFSPA is still not removed from this state, even if it is claimed by the Congress regime that law and order situation of the state has considerably been improved. It is also worthy of discussion why the valley residents of the state are not allowed to settle in the hill areas in spite of the tall verbatim for emotional, cultural and social integration between the hills and the valley. Removal of AFSPA and extension of MLR&LR Act in hills are the issues needing urgent attention so as to bring about security of life and peaceful co-existence among the varied groups of people in the long run.
“When a dog bites a man, that is not news. But if a man bites a dog, that is news.” This great saying by the legendary journalist John B. Bogart serves as the most convincing definition of news to journalism students. However, news reporters and publishers shall always remember their responsibilities of involving in socio-human issues concerning the people in democracies. The national newspaper The Telegraph recently published a news report regarding Sharmila’s personal love story which even led the Manipuri civil society to boycott the newspaper for irresponsibility. It is now questionable – which is more newsy between Sharmila fasting for 11 years for love of humanity and the same lady speaking out her personal moments in romance ? The Telegraph dwelled only on the awkward part of Sharmila’s decade-old movement and seemed to forget the endurance and toil during the whole process. It was also at a time when ‘Save Sharmila Campaigns’ to enliven her protest movement were being planned from across the nation. It is highly skeptical whether the media organisation was intentional towards sabotaging the Sharmila’s non-violent movement or some hidden-elements have maneuvered tactics for that end.
Universally, the Armed Forces Special Powers Act 1958 is inhumane and openly violates human rights. It is even more irrelevant in the context of Indian democracy, where fundamental right to life occupies the main aspect of its constitution. Certain provisions of the Act have allowed the security forces to kill innocent human beings out of suspicion. To enforce such an act in Manipur is highly irrational. It is high time the union government paid urgent attention towards the strongest ever protest by the non-violent striker Irom Chanu Sharmila and created a healthy platform for talks with the iron lady in the interest of humanity.
In the name of counter insurgency, innumerable numbers of youths of the state were killed after arrests, forced to disappear after pick-up by the security or to become psychologically and physically disturbed for life. We had seen widespread agitations in the state when a 15-year-old innocent student Yumlembam Sanamacha from Yairipok Angtha was forced to disappear after arrest by the security years back. In similar case, Laishram Bijoykumar Singh, a student leader also never returned home from the hands of security personnel. We may also recall the cases of Chandam Chaoba of Pukhao Terapur, Lokendro and Loken of Khongman and Pebiya Pandit Leikai who were forced to disappear in custody. The RIMS massacre, Heirangoithong incident, Malom and Oinam incidents etc. were epoch-making happenings where security forces put to end innocent civilians. None will never forget the Thangjam Manorama murder episode in July 2004 which even led to the infamous nude protest by Manipuri women in front of the sacred Kangla and to the self-immolation of student activist Chitaranjan. There were also extrajudicial executions after arrests and tragic stories told by those escaped from security camps regarding the destructive motive of security forces.
Besides upholding human rights and dignity of the people, Manipur needs an enabling environment where innumerable number of varied ethnic communities may live together in peace and co-operation. The Manipur Land Revenue & Land Reform Act, 1960 (MLR & LR Act, 1960) enacted by Parliament to bring about uniformity in distribution of land throughout the State is excluding the hill areas of the State. There is a special protective provision of the Act on the transfer of land belonging to a tribal to non-tribal. Section 158 says, “No transfer of land by a person who is a member of Scheduled tribes shall be valid, unless the transfer is to another member of Schedule tribes or is by way of mortgage to a co-operative society.”
Moreover, the antagonism of the people residing at far-off hill areas towards the mainland dwellers has become more and more widened due to lack of road connectivity and physical progress. Even though huge amounts have been pumped in to improve connectivity and infrastructure at the remote hill areas of the state, real development hardly reaches the targeted locations and intended beneficiaries as a few well-to-do people ranging from high profile contractors to politicians remain reaping the fruits. Thus, people at the edge feel excluded from the mainland. So it is highly necessary at this juncture to allow the valley people to settle in hill areas to bring about emotional integration. If the people of the valley areas are allowed to settle in the hill areas, then there would be inter-mingling of populations among ethnic groups. Their problems and prospects would well be shared among them. Emotional integration would not be a far cry in such a situation. So why not the land revenue and land reforms act is extended to the hills ?
(The writer is a free lance Journalist)