Manipur Tribal Students Bring Protest To Delhi, Demand Presidents Rule In State
Students from Manipur Protest in Delhi
NEW DELHI: The Impact of the Manipur unrest can now be seen on the streets of the national capital. Thirty six tribal student bodies gathered here to register their protest against the alleged high handedness of state government. They have prepared a blueprint of prolonged agitation if their demands are not met.
The tribal students group demanded immediate intervention of the Prime Minister into the turmoil in the hill areas of Manipur following the passing of three Bills by the Manipur State Assembly.
The students urged the Prime Minister to immediately impose President’s rule and expedite a “separate administration” for the tribal hill areas.
A student Golan Naulak, who is studying in Delhi for the past two years and now on his way abroad for higher studies told The Citizen, "We will continue with our agitation and dharna to draw the attention of the Prime Minister towards this step motherly treatment. Our blueprint is ready and we will intensify our agitation if our demands are not met".
Over a thousand tribal students and youth from Manipur unanimously demanded imposition of President’s Rule in the State. Students and youths who turned out in large numbers o at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi, shouted slogans and called for immediate resignation of all the 19 tribal MLAs.
Student demonstrators termed the reaction of the Manipur State Government over protesters in Lamka a targeted discrimination and injustice against the tribals. The protest demonstration held under the umbrella of Manipur Tribal Students, Delhi, was peaceful and the students’ representatives submitted a memorandum to the Prime Minister.
A total of thirty six tribal students’ unions signed the memorandum , including solidarity support from TISS (Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai) and civil society organization such as Indian Confederation of Indigenous People. Calling for immediate intervention of the Prime Minister, the students demanded in their memorandum, to immediately impose President’s rule and expedite a “separate administration” for the tribal hill areas.
Sam G Nagaihte, another member who was part of the agitation said, "The demand is about getting justice. Whatever going on in far away Manipur is unfair and complete injustice. We will draw the attention of the nation. We are also using the social media to tell each and everyone about it. We will pursue it till the last point and we are prepared to intensify our agitation".
The memorandum further demanded that the State security forces involved in brutal killing of the agitators be punished and that Manipur police commandos be removed from tribal areas. It also sought for restoration of all villages transferred to valley district to its original hill districts.
Alleging that live bullets were used against protesters in Lamka and other areas of Churachandpur district, student leaders lamented the biased attitude of the State Government towards the protesters. “ Rubber bullets for valley and live bullets for the hill tribals?” asked one of the student protesters.
A candlelight vigil is also being planned for all those who have lost their lives in Churachandpur.
The tribal people had made their opposition to the Meitei demands clear, but were never consulted, the release said. Moreover, the press release said that the Hill Areas Committee (HAC), comprising of all tribal MLAs, which was set up under Article 371C of the Constitution to protect tribal interests and whose concurrence is mandatory for all legislation affecting tribal areas, was summarily brushed aside.
While condemning the high-handed and deeply biased manner in which the Manipur Government responded to the protests, the press release asserted that the Manipur police used rubber bullets for the Valley protesters, but live bullets were freely used for tribal protesters. The student bodies reiterated that the tribal people were never consulted during the entire process in the demand for ILP in the state.
Despite that the ‘Joint Committee’ (of ILP) claimed in their Memorandum of 8 August, which the Government accepted in whole, and on the basis of which the three Bills were prepared, that they are speaking ‘on behalf of the people of Manipur’. This is misleading and deeply disrespectful of the tribal population of the State, the release said.
Meanwhile the Mizo National Front (MNF) on Wednesday urged the Centre to probe the circumstances resulting in the death of seven tribals in alleged police firing in neighbouring Manipur. The MNF criticises the Congress government in Manipur for enacting a legislation “endangering the rights of the tribals of the state,” a press release issued by the party said.
Another organisation The Zo Reunification Organisation (ZoRO) also demanded the withdrawal of the Manipur Land Revenue and Land Reforms Act, legislated by the Manipur state legislature in its special session on Saturday last. Widespread arson was witnessed in Manipur on Monday with houses of a state minister, an MP and five MLAs set on fire by unidentified people in Churachandpur district apparently over passage of some bills in the Assembly.
Eight people were killed and 31 injured since the outbreak of violence in the district since Monday following which indefinite curfew was clamped in Churachandpur town. Tribal student organisations were protesting against the passage of three bills – Protection of Manipur People Bill, 2015, Manipur Land Revenue and Land Reforms (Seventh amendment) Bill, 2015, and Manipur Shops and Establishments (Second Amendment) Bill, 2015. The tribals feared that the passage of the bills would allow outsiders to have rights over tribal land.
Further, fuel transportation from different oil refineries of Assam to Imphal is still mired in ambiguities after landslides at Phesama, Nagaland blocked Imphal-Dimapur highway and Imphal-Jiribam highway became inaccessible after Barak Bridge broke down.