MANIPUR TALKS COLLAPSE, BURIAL OF 9 'MARTYRS' DEFERRED
Protests in Manipur (file picture)
NEW DELHI: Several rounds of talks failed to break the logjam between the government and the Manipur Joint Action Committee (JAC) as well as other groups protesting against the land anti-tribal bills in Manipur. The JAC has, decided not to bury the nine martyrs killed in police firing during the protests.
The governments, both state and central, have failed to break the deadlock with a hardening of the JAC position after this round of talks. Earlier one of the groups had agreed to hold the funeral on February 13 but this has since been rejected.
The passing of the legislations since August 31 has led to an agitation by the locals of Manipur. The protests and agitation is going on since August 31. Special secretary (Home) Internal Security also visited the areas facing severe unrest in the past.
The tribes like Nagas, Kukis, Zomis and Hmars have claimed that the three land 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.
The proposal to lay the ‘martyrs’ to rest on February 13 was recommended by the meeting conveners, who entrusted the JAC, along with the JPO and the Innpis to oversee the exercise. A representative of the armed conglomerates – the UPF and KNO reportedly told the meeting that the Government has agreed to compensate the victims’ families, both those killed and injured, besides agreeing to construct a Martyrs’ park in their memory if they were laid to rest together.
For this the representative had asked for the detailed list of victims’ as well as their kin who could be offered jobs by the government. They also asked for an audit report from both the JAC and the JPO and instructed the two organisations to resume the work for arranging the burial site effective from Wednesday at the ADC complex as was decided earlier.
These all are at a proposal stage as there is no consensus among the protesting groups. ‘The martyrs have not laid down their lives for an ex-gratia. The aim is the withdrawal of the three bills. The offer has been made and it is certainly taking care of well being of the martyrs. However that is not for which we are fighting here,’ H. Mangchinkhup, the Chief Convenor of JAC told The Citizen.He said the JAC has now taken a decision there will be no funeral until the government withdraws the controversial bills.
It is been more than 160 days since the nine persons were killed while protesting the three ‘anti-tribal’ bills that were passed by the Manipur State Assembly on August 31, 2015.
Since the day, the bills were passed, protestors, mainly from tribal organisations from the Manipur hills largely, 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 OuterManipur Thangso Baite in Churachandpur district.
While protesting over this issue many locals got injured while nine people were killed. The bodies of these nine people have not yet been cremated as a mark of protest.
‘The government needs to understand the ground reality that unless they do something about the three bills there is no solution to this ongoing protest “ Mangchinkhup said.
Meanwhile, the Manipur Tribals Forum Delhi on Wednesday said it will file a police complaint against the Manipur government for the killing of nine tribals by the police during a protest in September last year. The bodies of the nine people, who were killed in violence in Churachandpur district after the assembly passed three bills for the protection of indigenous people, have been lying in a morgue since then. The Manipur Tribals Forum Delhi said it was “not happy” that the state government has not booked anyone regarding the killings. Representatives of the group have already met President Pranab Mukherjee, Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju and other officials and that they understood the grievances of the tribals as “genuine”. The group claimed that many parliamentarians also supported the tribal cause. It also demanded a high-level inquiry into the killings, and that the Centre ought to intervene in the matter of passing of the three bills by the Manipur assembly. However, Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh has maintained that there was not a single word against the tribals in the three bills, and if it was pointed out on the contrary, the government was ready to delete the same. The group also demanded a separate administration for tribals in Manipur.