Save the indigenous people of the land. This slogan is central to the demands put forth by the KSA to bar non-locals from contesting elections in the State, delete all the non-locals from the voting list as well as the demand of the Joint Committee on Inner Line Permit System (JCILPS) to enact a legislation to check the large scale influx of non-local people into the State.
Underlining the point that all these demands, though championed by different groups, centre around the future of the indigenous people vis-a-vis the non-local people, who have been flooding Manipur for long.
Why Manipur continues to attract so many non-local people has been touched upon many times in this column and while the demand to pass a Bill to protect the indigenous people should be there, all must also give some thought on why such a big vacuum has been created in the first place to let others rush in and fill up the vacuum.
Others rushing in to the fill any vacuum thus created is the law of nature and this is something which cannot be wished away that easily.
This can also explain why the Inner Line Permit System has worked better in some States than others in comparison.
It also goes that in preparing any Bill to check the influx of non-local people, the Government and all need to keep in mind to take everyone along.
Manipur cannot afford a repeat of what happened at Churachandpur in 2015.
This is where serious thoughts need to be given on whether it would be more prudent to come out with such a Bill meant only for the valley of Manipur.
As things stand today, the hills are Constitutionally protected and it is the valley that needs some sort of protection from the incessant influx of non-local people.
Nobody, not even the valley people, meaning the Meiteis, can buy any landed properties in the hill areas of Manipur.
Even permanent residency is not allowed. It is the valley which stands exposed to all and this is where some sort of a protection is needed.
This is a point which the hill people too should appreciate and take note of.
Just because the hills are protected by the Constitution does not mean that the State Government cannot do something to protect the valley.
A point which should be accepted by all.
This is precisely the reason why no hill based organisations have come forward to join the chorus of a Bill to protect the indigenous people.
And this is where the State Government may seriously study the possibility of coming out with a Bill which is applicable only to the valley area.
Tough work ahead for the BJP led Government, for remember other than the pressing demand to check the influx of non-local people into the State, there is also the demand that a move be made to recommend to the Centre that the Meiteis be included in the Scheduled Tribe list of the Constitution of India.
How the State Government goes about addressing these issues remains to be seen, but surely the coming days will not be easy.
Source: The Sangai Express