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Meet Rejects Govt Attempt To Amend Tribal Related Acts

LAMKA, Apr 9: A day after the Chief Minister stunned the State by withdrawing the TD and Hills portfolio from the tribal domain to personally assume the charge, a meet convened by COPTAM and hundreds of tribal chiefs here got vocal in rejecting the proposed amendments on the District Council and the Village Authorities’ Acts.

Minutely deliberating on the Manipur (Village Authorities in Hill Areas) Act 2011 and the Manipur (Hill Areas) District Council Act 2011 (4th Amendment) for over five hours at Synod Hall here, the flock consisting of village chiefs, students, CSOs, tribal intellectuals and public leaders concluded that the State Government is blunt in its attempt to exploit all sorts of tribal interest in the State.

Speaking as a resource person, Prof Laldena said the State’s recommendation for the extension of the Sixth Schedule in the six district councils of the State with a rider, ‘subject to certain local adjustment and amendments,’ sounds discriminatory and communally biased too.

Observing that the Acts discussed on the day would serve none but the State’s attempt to exploit the tribals of the rights and land, he called on Minister and public leaders to have dialogue to bring meaningful solution to the problem in the larger interest of the aggrieved tribal people in hill districts of the State.

“Look at the notification issued by the commissioner (GAD), Government of Manipur in respect of the warrant of protocol on 6th February, 2010…. This is indeed an insult to the tribal people. This caste-biased warrant of protocol should immediately be withdrawn”, he contended in one of the many arguments he made.

The warrant has placed the Chairperson and Vice Chairperson of Zilla Parishad, an equivalent of the district councils in the hills, at serial 23 and 24 while the ADC Chairman is placed at 33. Besides the DC in the plain districts are placed at well above their counterparts in the hills.

On the Manipur (Village Authorities in Hill Areas) Act 2011, R Sanga, another speaker alleged that it was nothing but a deliberate attempt to grab the vast tribal land and the control over it.

With a declaration rejecting the twin acts tabled at the meet in toto, its participants unanimously agreed that the acts are a direct threat to the existence of the traditional chieftainship, their land and the tribal ethos. They also dubbed the district council fourth amendment act as devoid of true autonomy, be it in terms of legislative, judiciary, and finance.

Meanwhile, the Zomi Students Federation in a statement issued to the press voiced its reservation and dismay over the Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh assuming the charge of Tribal Development (TD) and Hills portfolio against the practice norms prevailing in the State.

Seeking a satisfactory answer on the motive behind the Chief Minister’s move on the one and only department that is exclusively set up for the welfare of the tribal or hill people of Manipur, the federation said it is nothing but a political blunder which will further alienate the marginalized tribal people.

(Courtesy: The Sangai Express / S Singlianmang Guite)

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