IMPHAL, Oct 23 : The public meeting on Manipur Land Reforms and Land Revenue Act (MLR & LR Act) at Imphal on October 22 totally ignored the historical fact concerning the Nagas and tribals in Manipur, said a United Naga Council statement issued today by its Publicity Cell.
asserting that the Nagas and the tribals in the present state of Manipur were independent of the Manipur Maharaja, the statement pointed out that a dual system of administration for the Hills and the Valley came into existence after the British annexed the Meitei kingdom of Manipur in 1891.
This system continued even after 1949 when the Meitei kingdom was merged with the Indian Union along with the hill areas, without the knowledge and consent of the Nagas and other tribal people.
The indisputable separateness between the Nagas/tribals in Manipur and the people from Manipur Valley was recognized even then, UNC said and referred to Article 371C of the Indian Constitution to affirm that rights and interests for the tribals in Manipur were protected under the legislation.
The separate Manipur MLR & LR Act was passed by the Indian Parliament in 1960 and was made applicable only to the valley area of Manipur. This is a logical extension of the historical position of the hills vis-a-vis the plains and protects the tribals from land alienation.
The discussion at Imphal smacks of utter disrespect for the tribals and their separate identity and symbolises arrogance and domineering attitude of the majority Meitei community, the Council alleged.
Reacting to the discussion recording that the hill people do not hold any document of land holding and that the chief/khullakpas can simply claim ownership over hill ranges of their localities, the UNC opined that subtle and condescending arguments are all being presented towards legitimizing the usurpation of tribal lands.
The discourse in greater Imphal is about land grabbing, about upgradation/creation of new revenue districts, about intrusion into the land of the tribals.
As already brought out into the public domain, every Naga village and tribe have their own distinct territorial boundary and jurisdiction.
The tribals have their own way of life. To them the land and the people cannot be parted as their culture, tradition and identity are interwoven with the land.
“The meeting which was telecast on the local channel saw the UCM president suggesting bloodshed and one Ranendrajit mention the possibility of a civil war in Manipur if the MLR&LR Act is not extended to the hills.”
The threat is clearly directed to the tribals in absentia. This is a wake up call for the tribals in Manipur,” the UNC exhorted while cautioning that the concern individuals and their organizations would be held solely responsible for any untoward incident arising out of their instigation and threats.
Source: The Sangai Express