Manipur Hill Village Authority Act Flayed

IMPHAL, May 12: Chair-man of Committee on Protection of Tribal Areas, Manipur Letpu Haokip has expressed strong opposition against amendment of The Manipur (Village Authorities in Hill Areas) Act, 1956 in any form.

Participating in a daylong seminar on ‘The Manipur (Village Authorities in Hill Areas) Act of 1956 and Amendment Acts of 2010-2011’ organized under the aegis of All Tribal Chiefs’ Association, Manipur at Hotel Tampha here today; Letpu Haokip alleged that despite Constitutional protections, tribal people in Manipur are being discriminated upon by the State ad- ministration.

“In accordance to Manipur (Village Authorities in Hill Areas) Act, the village chiefs concerned are the owners of the land in the hills settled by the tribal people. Any part of the land could also be utilized without the consent of the chiefs concerned. But the Act in its amended form has taken away the ownership rights from the chiefs. This is not acceptable. The main duty and responsibility of the chiefs is to protect the village and it is what they have been doing under the Manipur Hill Village Authorities Act,” Letpu Haokip asserted.

Objecting amendment of the Act in any form, Letpu clarified that demand of the tribal people over the issue is not a political demand.

Observing that the Government of Manipur should not work against the integrity of Manipur, Letpu categorically pointed out that the Government would never be able to ensure territorial integrity of Manipur by working against the moral integrity of the people living in the hills.

Tribal people in Manipur would never agree amendment of Manipur Hill Village Authorities Act, District Council Act, etc, he added.

Social activist R Sanga observed that amendment of The Manipur Hill Village Authorities Act would amount to loss of tribal culture and customs and make them even more vulnerable to suppression by others. So, instead of amending the Act and abolishing the chieftainship which has been acting as the guardians of tribal tradition, customs and culture, royalties should be given to the chiefs.

The president of Confederation of Tribal Chiefs’ Association, Manipur T Kipgen maintained that area of the land belonging to villages in the hills of Manipur has been diminishing slowly while people in the hills are dividing themselves into two groups as Naga and Kuki and raising demands. So, it is high time, for joining hands under a common objective to work together for the same demand.

Tribal chiefs and leaders from different districts of Manipur also attended the seminar.

(Courtesy: The Sangai Express)

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