Naga forum says fresh Bill ‘highly questionable’ Draft Bill old wine in new bottle : MTFD

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New Delhi: Students from Manipur shout slogans during protest against recent violence in Manipur, at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi on Wednesday. PTI Photo by Vijay Verma  (PTI9_2_2015_000156B)
New Delhi: Students from Manipur shout slogans during protest against recent violence in Manipur, at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi on Wednesday. PTI Photo by Vijay Verma (PTI9_2_2015_000156B)

IMPHAL, Aug 22:  Referring to the Draft Bill which has been made public by the State Government to regulate the entry of non-local people into Manipur, the Manipur Tribals’ Forum, Delhi (MTFD) has today asserted that it is not different from the earlier Bill which has been rejected by the President and declared that it is nothing but ‘old wine in new bottle’.
Claiming that the Draft Bill christened Manipur Regulation of Non-Local People Bill, 2016, has the same ‘anti-tribal’ motives, MTFD said that the bodies of the nine people killed in the protest at Churachandpur are still lying at the morgue and added that the attempt to push through the fresh Bill which affects the hill areas is a slap on the face of the tribal people.
Keeping aside the unresolved issue of the nine people killed at Churachandpur and trying to introduce a new Bill is tantamount to the collective humiliation of all the tribal people, it added.
The tribal people will oppose any Bill that affects the hill areas, asserted MTFD and added that they cannot expect the State Assembly to be democratic when the tribal people are hugely unrepresented in the House. This is in violation of Article 332, it claimed.
The root cause of many problems in the State lies in the fact that the value of vote in the valley is equivalent to three tribal votes, it said and added that the Government of India must rectify this.
Stating that the JAC Against the Anti-Tribal Bills and other tribal bodies have submitted their demands for a resolution to the present crisis and for honourable burial of the nine killed at Churachandpur, the statement said that till date none of the Ministers, including the Chief Minister, have visited the morgue to pay respect to the departed souls.
Until and unless the issues arising out of the three Bills passed year are addressed, the tribals cannot participate in the discussion of any Bill which affect that hill areas of Manipur.
The Government should first take steps to address the conditions laid down for the burial of the nine people which include justice in terms of punishing those responsible for their deaths as per the law, provide protection for the hill areas of Manipur in the same way as in other tribal areas of the region.
Naga Political Leaders’ Forum Manipur (NPLFM) has also said the State Government’s ‘hasty decision’ to introduce a Bill aimed at safeguarding indigenous people’s interests is ‘highly questionable’  in view of the unresolved plight of tribal people in Manipur.
“The intention of the State Government is highly questionable. We want the Government to resolve the issue pertaining to the ‘nine tribal martyrs’ before taking any decision which lack logic,” NPLFM secretary Athuan Abonmai told Newmai News Network on Monday.
The stand of the NPLFM comes close on the heels of the State Government’s preparation to introduce a fresh Bill to regulate the entry of non-local people into the State in the coming Assembly session.
The Manipur Regulation of Non-Local People Bill, 2016  was drafted after the earlier Protection of Manipur People (PMP) Bill, 2015 was rejected by the President in the backdrop of widespread protest staged by the tribal people.
Abonmai said, “Two Bills are hibernating. The tribal people in the hills want cancellation of all the three anti-tribal Bills.”
He criticised Manipur Deputy Chief Minister Gaikhangam for his repeated statement in public that the “anti-tribal Bills have been withdrawn.”  The Bills were passed in August last year.
The forum secretary said everybody will accept any agreeable Bill but any step taken up before settling the issue on killing of tribal people will bear no fruit. The nine bodies are still lying at the mortuary of Churachandpur district hospital. They were killed during the protest that broke out in Churachandpur following the passing of the three Bills.
Abonmai said the Government should stop belittling the issue and the sacrifices made by the nine protesters for the cause of the tribal people. He suggested that the State Government leave the entire responsibility to the Centre to ensure speedy justice to the ‘martyrs.’
“Their families and relatives are anxiously waiting for justice to be delivered. The Government should understand our plight. All stakeholders will be ready for consultation only after the issue is addressed,” he said.

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