Obvious that the State Government is serious about the issue. One week is the time that Chief Minister O Ibobi has given to prepare a fresh Bill in place of the earlier one which has been rejected by the Centre. However being serious about preparing the fresh Bill and studying whether it will be acceptable to all section of society are different matters and the State Government need to tread cautiously, with the Churachandpur JAC already spelling out its stand. And important to note too that the stand of the Churachandpur JAC has got the full backing of all the tribal organisations and this is something which the State Government cannot afford to overlook. Moreover it is unlikely that the Centre will enact a Bill if it is opposed by any section of the society and this is a point which everyone should acknowledge. Remember too that the bodies of the nine people killed at Churachandpur in the protest against the three Bills passed by the State Assembly last year are still lying in state and there is not even the slightest hint that the tribal bodies will soften their stand. As things stand, the State Government has already brought to the public domain a revised/improved version of a Draft Bill and sought the opinion of the people. The natural question is how many have submitted their suggestions and stand to the Government ? Have the hill based organisations submitted their stand on the Bill to the Government ? Important question this is.
It is here that the State Government may look into the suggestions that the Bill should be made applicable or enforced only in the valley area. The hills already have Constitutional protection and it is the valley area that needs some sort of a protection from the large scale influx of non-local people into the State. It is this point which the hill based organisations too should take note of. The hills are already protected and it is the valley area, where everyone is free to buy landed properties and settle, which need some protection. Forget non-local people, even the valley people cannot settle or buy landed properties in the hill areas. Therefore it is the valley area that needs some protection and obviously regulating the inflow of non-local people can go some way in providing the needed protection. As such why not make the fresh Bill applicable only in the valley area ? This should not be taken as having different laws for the hills and the valley for the Manipur Land Revenue and Land Reforms Act is applicable only to the valley area and not the hills. All in all there is the need for all to come to the realisation that this is an issue which should unite all the indigenous people of the land and not divide them.