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Central Team Negates Tribal Expectation

LAMKA, Apr 28: The visiting Central today fails to meet the expectation of the tribals here as they barely spare half-an-hour to listen to their arguments and appears to be hell-bent on imposing the Panchayati Raj institution with a pre-conceived ideas as against the common expectation of the tribals.

Confronted by a couple of Acts which the State tribal bodies have already opposed in their capacity, the Central team comprising of Dr Hrusikesh Panda, Additional Secretary of Ministry of Panchayati Raj and Ratash Singh, Director of Ministry of DoNER, the tribal leadership here even flaunted a banner calling them the hope of the tribals but they demean the expectations.

A statement issued by CDSU, a co-host of the discuss on decentralization of power in the state today said, it is painful to note that the central team could spare 30 minutes only to discuss a wide ranging consultation with the tribals. ‘The meeting is more of a platform to impose the pre-conceived ideas of the government without trying to accommodate the view expressed by the people or understand the unique existence of the tribes in Manipur, it said.

To take their argument further the union added, ‘the team fail to appreciate the fact that the present village authority in tribal areas of Manipur is already an elected body.’

‘Terming the VA as undemocratic and unconstitutional is false, unfounded and most unfortunate. It is also unfair to make comparative statement between the conditions of Manipur tribal with that of Mizoram, Nagaland and Meghalaya which are tribal dominated state,’ it contended.

The union release also said it is unbecoming for a person like Panda to openly undermine the importance of Governor in north east India.

Meanwhile a memo submitted to the visiting officials by COPTAM contended that the tribals were not consulted for comment or suggestion before framing the acts and notifications that pertains to their land. The acts and notifications of the government were designed so as to systematically loot the tribal ancestral land, it said.

‘We need development but not if it is at the cost of our land, custom, culture and tradition. It is unlawful to insist on Manipur tribals to get rid of customs and culture for the sake of development and decentralization,’ it added.

A release of the ZHRF made before the centre team’s visit as well made it clear the distaste of the tribals about the proposed amendments on a couple of relating to the tribals.

‘It is unfortunate that the laws framed to safeguards tribal interest in Manipur are neither under the Fifth Schedule nor is under the Sixth Schedule. Such fundamental flaws led to tribal unrest today. The Hill Area Committee( under Art 371C) is designed to be the Tribes Advisory Council consisting of scheduled tribe (ST) legislators that was to advise the Governor of the state who was given the responsibility for overseeing the administration of these scheduled areas. But it fails to function as intended due to non-incorporation of the said tribal areas under the Fifth Schedule,’ it had said.

Hoards of banners, ‘Central team hope of tribals; our land our life and livelihood, it must be protected; Chieftainship our refuge without constitutional protection; tribals are indigenous, respect their rights; Manipur becomes Manipulation; No Acts and amendments to loot our land and push us to hell; We appreciate development and decentralization but not at the expense of our land and culture,’ have as well greeted the visiting central team.

(Courtesy: The Sangai Express / S Singlianmang Guite)

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