Negotiate. Discuss. Talk things over. This is the mantra that 515 people drawn from different communities have floated so that the Joint Committee on Inner Line Permit System (JCILPS) and the Joint Action Committee Against Anti-Tribal Bills, Churachandpur (JACAATB) can sit down and talk things over. Just what the situation demands. If it is the JCILPS which has been at the forefront demanding the Inner Line Permit System or a similar mechanism to check the inflow of non-local people into the State and literally throwing life out of gear in Imphal and the valley, then it is the JACAATB which has been calling the shots in the hill areas against the three Bills passed by the State Assembly on August 31 last year. As one of the 515 individuals said, they are not activists, not civil society organisations, but common people like any Tomba, Hongba and Chaoba, but who have been at the receiving end of the tussle between the proponents of the three Bills and those against it and this is where the novelty lies. A sincere attempt to bridge the disconnect on either side of the Bills divide. Wonder why such an approach has not been thought of earlier, but better late than never and it is heartening to hear some sane voices amid the rantings and sloganeerings in the valley and the hills. It is this which should be acknowledged and why everyone should extend support to the initiative taken up by the 515 individuals.
Take everyone aboard. Checking the inflow of non-local people into the State should be seen as a move to save the local people and not in the sole interest of any particular community. This is the message that should be rung out loud and clear. Encouraging to note that the JCILPS and the JACAATB are positive to the initiative of the 515 individuals and it is here that one wonders what the State Government has been doing all this while. Why couldn’t it have thought of a similar initiative earlier ? Moreover it is also disheartening to note that the fresh move has come from 515 individuals and not from any of the well established civil society organisations on either side of the Bills divide. Were they too occupied with their own agenda that the need to talk things over did not cross their minds ? A question worth asking. This is however not to say that the two sides will actually sit down and talk things over and resolve all differences, but it is refreshing to note that there are some genuinely concerned people amid the madness that one sees all around. With the two sides expressing interest in sitting down and talking things over, it is the bounden duty of everyone to encourage them all the way. In the meantime, it will not help to indulge in rabble rousing which will only further deepen the divide.