From 1951 to 1972. This cannot be called a climb down but being practical, for remember it is more than clear that the State Government does not have the National Register of Citizens for 1951, as evidenced by the RTI application submitted by a social worker some time back. One is obviously talking about the base year for preparing a fresh Bill in place of the PMP Bill which has been withheld by the President of India. Now with the Joint Committee on Inner Line Permit System upping the pressure on the State Government to deliver the fresh Bill in the coming Assembly session, the Government need to realise the importance of taking everyone on board before the Bill is finalised and tabled in the Assembly. What happened after August 31 last year should be enough lesson for the Government and everyone else. Let it also be clear to all the native people of the land that what the JCILPS is demanding is a Constitutional measure to protect the interest of the indigenous people in the face of the relentless onslaught of non-local people into the soil of Manipur. It is this which is central to the demand to enact a law so that the future of the native people may be safeguarded. On the other hand the hill people too should come to the understanding that their interest cannot be jeopardised as they are already under Constitutional protection by being included in the Scheduled Tribe category. In such a situation it is the valley people who are facing the threat of unchecked entry of non-local people. However the central idea is to protect the interest of the local people and this fact should not be lost on anyone.
This is the time when all the local people of the land should be sharing ideas and aspirations so that the collective future of everyone is protected. The people to people contact should be encouraged and this is also the opportune moment for the State Government to reach out to all the people and take them into confidence. Will absolutely serve no one’s interest if the action of the Government is perceived to be taken in the interest of any particular community. It is this trust deficit that should be addressed to. And this is where the civil society organisations from either side need to reach out and consult each other. Meaningful contact, this is important. No point in merely paying lip service to antiquated slogans but actually demonstrate that the local people are one and the same. So for the Government it is imperative that it takes everyone on board and for the people it is important for them to reach out and consult each other and strive to remove any misunderstanding. The first step towards this may perhaps be to stop looking everything through the prism of one’s community. People to people consultation and the Government taking everyone on board before a Bill is passed will definitely be the best way to avoid what happened last year. Restore confidence between the different communities and this should be the responsibility of everyone.