Imphal, Manipur : Protesters faced the wrath of casualty when 3 persons were killed and more than a dozen injured Monday evening. This incident took place in the Churachandpur district of Manipur which has resulted in clamping down of routine and bringing the town to a standstill due to indefinite curfew being imposed thereafter. The residences of Manipur Minister in charge of family welfare, P Tonsing, and two MLAs – M Vaiphei and V Ralte – were burnt in Churachandpur district hours after three bills were passed.
Manipur State assembly passed three bills – Protection of Manipur People Bill, Manipur Land Revenue and Land Reforms (Seventh amendment) Bill, and Manipur Shops and Establishments (Second Amendment) Bill. The objective of these bills, as stated by the assembly, was to protect indigenous people and their rights. The bill was passed after continuous protests of two agitation-borne months.
The bills will cater to issues concerning non-Manipuri persons, who will have to get passes for travelling to the state. On their residential aspect, Non-Manipuri tenants will have to registers their names with state government. On a commercial front, Identity cards for non-Manipuri employees will be encouraged as a means of keeping a tab on these persons. And, regarding real estate deals, Non-Manipuris will have to take govt permission to buy any piece of land.
Agitations were staged in support of introduction of ILP – Inner line permit (ILP), which was introduced by British government to protect their commercial interests in Northeast, which is a special pass that is required to enter Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland and Mizoram. Now Manipuris are demanding the introduction of a similar permit in the state, as it is a travel document required to enter these states. Protests are centered around fears such as ‘demographic invasion’ and possibility of locals becoming minorities in their own state. The ILP is an ancient relic – the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation Act, 1873 – enacted by the colonial rulers to keep ‘the savage hill men’ out of Assam’s Brahmaputra Valley, rich in tea and oil. It survived till recently, in the form of sheet of paper any Indian has to fill up to visit Mizoram, Nagaland or Arunachal Pradesh. Details like reasons for visit was noted and a time bound limit on the visit days was sanctioned.
Several frontline tribal organisations have also called a 12-hour shutdown today to protest these bills – which they feel are against the interests of tribal people.