Nagaland's Sole MP Supports Protest Against Land Bills
Lok Sabha MP and former Nagaland CM Neiphiu Rio
MANIPUR/DELHI: Nagaland’s sole Lok Sabha member Neiphiu Rio has joined the protesters in urging Prime Minister Narendra Modi to ensure that consent is not given to the three controversial land rights legislations passed by the Manipur assembly recently.
Rio has written to the PM making this demand.Speaking to The Citizen, the Chief convener of the joint action committee, Manipur, which is leading the mass agitation H. Mangchinkhup said, “ This is very positive for us that he is leading our agitation at the central level. His writing to the Prime Minister is extremely positive and has strengthened our ongoing agitation”.
Rio while speaking to the local media said, “I think good sense will prevail on the prime minister and he will not allow this kind of manipulation in the state or in the country if we want to have a good and harmonious society,”
His comments came after, what he referred to as the , “Meitei nationalist parties” of Manipur condemned his letter to the prime minister and termed it as interference in the internal affairs of the state. The three legislative measures passed include the Protection of Manipur People Bill, Manipur Land Revenue and Land Reforms Bill (Seventh Amendment), and the Manipur Shops and Establishments Bill (Second Amendment).
The hill tribes of Manipur have been protesting since August 31. Recently the special secretary (Home) Internal Security visited the areas facing severe unrest.
The tribes like Nagas, Kukis, Zomis and Hmars have claimed that the three bills would directly undermine the existing safeguards for the tribal hill areas regarding land ownership and population influx as the primary threat for the tribal people came not from outside the state but also from the Meitei people from the valley itself. They are calling it a policy to divide the hill tribe.
Since the day, the bills were passed, protestors, mainly from tribal organisations in the hills of the state, torched five houses belonging to Congress lawmakers. These included the houses of state Health and Family Welfare Minister Phungzathang Tonsing and Lok Sabha member from Outer Manipur Thangso Baite in Churachandpur district.
The violence and resultant police action left at least nine persons dead.
“Considering the volatile situation and the possibility of more violence and disturbance in the overall scenario in the state of Manipur, I urge the government of India to not give its consent to the three bills passed by the Manipur legislative assembly as the bills are directly against the welfare, desire and will of the tribal people,” Rio, a leader of the Nagaland People’s Front, said in his letter to the prime minister earlier this month
“ This is matter of rights for all of us. This is not limited to one state or place. The bills are a form of intrusion which is not acceptable to the people. No one would have accepted it. We all met the special secretary who was here to assess the situation. I am confident that along with the letter from the Neiphiu Rio it will be viewed compassionately,” added Mangchinkhup.