UNC calls public meeting on MLR and LR act a wake up call for tribals [Imphal Free Press]

IMPHAL, Oct 23 (NNN): Reacting strongly to certain comments during the public meeting on Manipur Land Reforms (MLR) and Land Revenue (LR) Act held in Imphal on Saturday, the United Naga Council (UNC) on Sunday cautions that those organisations and individuals will be held responsible if any catastrophic situation arises.

“The meeting which was telecast on the local channel saw the United Committee Manipur (UCM) president suggesting bloodshed and one Ranendrajit mentioning 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. It is being put on record that the concern individuals and their organizations would be held solely responsible for any untoward incident arising out of their instigation and threats,” the United Naga Council (UNC) warns today.

The Naga body said the public meeting on the 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. The Nagas and the tribals in the present state of Manipur were independent of the Manipur Maharaja, the UNC added. “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. Article 371Cof the Indian Constitution also provides for protection of the rights and interest for the tribals in Manipur,” the UNC said.

It said the separate Manipur Land Reforms and Land Revenue Act (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 tribal from land alienation, the Naga body pointed out.

“The discussion at Imphal smacks of utter disrespect for the tribals and their separate identity and symbolises the arrogance and domineering attitude of the majority Meitei community. The discussion recorded 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. Subtle and condescending arguments are all being presented towards legitimizing the usurpation of the land of the tribals. The discourse in greater Imphal is about land grabbing, about upgradation/creation of new revenue districts, about intrusion into the land of the tribals,” it alleges while adding, “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”.

Source: Imphal Free Press

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