After nearly 730 days or rather two years, the bodies of the eight men killed in the anti-Bills protest at Churachandpur are set to be claimed by May 25 and the last rites performed. This is certainly a positive move, for after all it stands that the bodies stood as mute testimony of the deep divide between the hills and the valley. It is here that the BJP led Government and the JACAATB, Churachandpur need to be acknowledged for coming to an understanding, albeit after such a long time. The decision to claim the bodies came after a Memorandum of Understanding between the JACAATB and the State Government was signed at Churachandpur on May 10 and here is hoping that the ugly incident of 2015 is buried for good. Remember nine people were killed after Churachandpur erupted in strong protest following the passage of three Bills by the State Assembly on August 31, 2015. The crux of the argument put forth by the JACAATB and the people of Churachandpur was that due procedures were not followed while passing the three Bills on August 31, 2015, with the JACAATB insisting that the same should have been referred to the Hill Areas Committee. So strong was the opposition to the three Bills, that the Churachandpur JAC did not hesitate in dubbing the three Bills as anti-tribal. Now with the inking of the MoU, here is hoping that the ugly incidents of past may be forgotten and a fresh approach be adopted. This is what the MoU has signified, if the sentence, ‘In future, any new Bill which affects the interest of indigenous tribal people, the State Government will follow due procedure as laid down in the Constitution of India and relevant rules in consultation with all stakeholders’ is anything to go by.
The interesting question is, were due procedures not followed when the State Assembly passed the three Bills on August 31, 2015 ? Leaving aside the failure of the then State Government to put the matter before the HAC, at what other points did the Government slip up ? This is not to encourage ghost hunting, but some questions that come to mind. The Churachand- pur issue seems to have been tackled for the time being, but the job of the State Government is far from over. There is every likelihood that the Joint Committee on Inner Line Permit System (JCILPS) will start their further course of agitation any time now to pile the pressure on the State Government to draft another Bill to regulate the inflow of non-local people to the State of Manipur. This will be another test for the BJP led Government and it will be interesting to see how the new Government proposes to deal with such a situation. It is here that The Sangai Express would like to repeat a point which has been sounded here in this column on more than one occasion. As things stand today, the hills already have Constitutional protection and it is the valley area that needs protection. So why not draft a Bill which can be applicable only to the valley area of the State ? Moreover care should be given to the cut off year to define who is not a native of the State. A deal has been inked with the Churachandpur JAC, but the ILP issue is still alive and all the more reason for the BJP led Government to be ready for any eventuality.
Source: The Sangai Express