MEMORANDUM SUBMITTED TO MISS ANUSUIYA UIKEY, HON’BLE VICE CHAIRPERSON, NATIONAL COMMISSIONER FOR SCHEDULED TRIBES, GOVERNMENT OF INDIA ON 7th JULY, 2018 BY THE ZOMI COUNCIL HQ, LAMKA & ITS CONSTITUENT TRIBE COUNCILS
REQUESTING FOR KIND INTERVENTION TO REDRESS THE PLIGHTS OF MANIPUR TRIBALS
At the outset, the Zomi Council (an Apex body of the Zomi Tribes in Manipur) and all its Constituent Tribes extended our hearty Welcome on your maiden visit of Lamka /Churachandpur Town, the second largest town in Manipur. Taking advantages of your visit, we would like to state the following facts for your sympathetic consideration and necessary intervention, please!
That, the administrative setup as well as land ownership system in tribal areas of Manipur State is uniquely different from other tribal areas in different parts of the country. The hill tribes remained independent principalities before the mighty Britisher colonised their ancestral land. Although the British appended the hill tribes to be a part of Manipur, without their free and informed consent, they were administered directly by the British and remained outside the general administration of the then Meitei Raja of Manipur for all practical purposes. Since then, there exist parallel system of administration for the hill tribes and valley-dwellers under the Meitei Raja. This fact was clearly mentioned by colonial writers/historians, as;
“The RajaH (tribal chief) is the sole supreme authority in the village or villages under him. No one else being competent to give orders or inflict punishment except through him.” (Col J. Shakespear, The Lushei-Kuki Clans)
“Separate rules govern the administration of the Hills, and they are detailed in the chapters dealing with the subjects.” (Sir Robert Reid, the Governor of Assam, History of the Frontier Areas Bordering Assam. 1893-1941V
That, after independence, the Administration of Hill areas(Regulation), Act, 1947 was formulated and became a part of the Manipur Constitution. A special Constitutional Provision under Art.371C was created resulting in the formation of Hill Areas Committee(HAC) and District Council Act, 1971 was passed by the Parliament one year before the Manipur was granted statehood status in 1972.
That, the traditional land-holding system as well as justice system of the Zomi in Manipur Hill areas is entirely based on customary law and practices and deeply embedded in our history. Each and every village has its own specific jurisdiction under the administration of the village authority headed by the village chief. It may be noted that, the tribal Chiefs and tribal lands was not included in the Manipur Merger Agreement signed between the Governor General of India and His Highness, the Meitei Raja of the then Princely State of Manipur on 21 September, 1949. This fact proof that entire Hill areas of Manipur was and continued to remain a separate administrative entity till today. And for all practical purposes, the chieftainship institution in the Hill areas of Manipur still exist and continue to play an important role in tribal way of life.
Respected Madam, in spite of all these historical facts and unique system of administration, the tribals in Manipur remain subjugated and marginalised in all aspects. Few instances may be cited here under;
- The Manipur Land Revenue and Land Reforms (MLR & LR) Act, 1960 has become a tool to exploit the tribal and systematically loot their land. The Act was rejected by the tribal since its inception, however, under the shadow of the Act. large chunk of tribal land was encroached, surveyed and land records transferred to valley Districts without the consent and knowledge of the concern tribal land ow’ners. The State Government’s attempt to amend the Act in 2015 invited violent protest from the tribal, resulting in the death of 9 tribal lives w hom w’e respectfully designated as Tribal martyrs.
- The Manipur Reservation of Vacancies in Post and Service (for ST/SC) Acts, 1976 has been keep inoperative for one reason or the other. The State Government fail to formulate its Recruitment Rules, and never fully implement the “100 Point Roster” in reservation, however, it replaced the same with a new’ ”200 Point Roster” since 2007, against the wishes of the tribal. In principle, the state government kept 32% reservation for ST, but in actual practice the post occupies by ST in every Department is hardy 10%-15%. This is because they cleverly manipulated vacant posts to avoid ST reservation.
- The State Government fail to fonnulate its own Forest Policy and Laws. In the absence of Nodal Forest Agency to redress forest related tribal grievances, the State Government has conveniently clubbed all tribal land under ‘community forest’. The abnormal increase in area under forest simply implies that more tribal land is being encroached, because there is practically no forest area in Manipur valley. Their attempt to bulldozed Tipaimukh Dam construction, declare large areas of tribal lands as Forest Reserve or Wild-life Sanctuary, explored Oil and Natural gas in tribal areas, etc without following existing procedures and in full disrespect to tribal land rights are few instances in w’hich the State Government is desperate to grabbed our land and resources minus their love and concern for the tribals.
- The State Government formulate ‘Manipur Cultural Policy’ without giving due consideration to variegates presence of multi-tribal cultures. According to this Policy, everything Meitei is Manipur and Manipur is the Land of Meitei and Meitei Ion speakers alone. Following this, Meitei Mayak script, which is completely foreign to the tribal, was imposed in all Government Schools Inspite of the fact that Manipuri language is already included in the Eight Schedule of the Constitution, the Meitei are now demanding to be classified as S1 community. This is illogical and highly objectionable.
- Large chunk of Tribal areas was appended to bordering valley District w ic have entirely different set of local-administration. This was exposed during the 2011 Census operation in which a numbers of overlapping census records existed in valley Districts bordering the hill areas.
- Tribal are victims of numbers, they remain a minority. In the 60 members Manipur Assembly, only 20 MLAs are tribal. Many anti-tribal Bills were introduced and pass in the Assembly with or without the consent of the Tribals and their representatives in the Assembly. It may be noted that, every 20 tribal MLAs from hill areas of Manipur represent 1004.45 sq.kms and 55107 person (2011 Census), whereas their counterpart in the valley area of the State represent 56 sq.kms and 43,294 persons respectively. In spite of these facts, fund allocations are often made on the basis of the size of population where the valley dwellers naturally have advantage over the hill areas. Such unjustifiable justification and practices for decades (since 1971) systematically impaired the process of delivering real development to tribal areas. In spite of this fact, State Government failed to implement the Delimitation Committee’s Report, 2001 on Assembly Constituencies as the valley stand to lost 3 seats in favour of the hill areas.
- Unhealthy Imphal-centric development resulted to developmental gaps between hill tribes and valley dwellers. For instances, there is one Block Development Office (BDO) for every 837 sq.kms and 160 sq.kms in hill areas and valley areas respectively; one Police Station for every 670 sq.kms and 90 sq.kms in hill and valley area respectively; and in case of healthcare services, there is one PHSC for every 85.48 sq.kms catering the needs of 3754 person in hill areas whereas the figure for valley area is 11 sq.kms and 6887 person!! Thus, Valleys Districts are one of the most developed Districts in Northeast India whereas the Hill Districts are at the bottom ten in terms of developmental index.
- Most importantly, unlike other tribal areas of Northeast India, Autonomous District Councils in tribal areas of Manipur are neither under the Sixth Schedule nor Fifth Schedule of the Indian Constitution..! Both the ADCs and Hill Areas Committee(HAC) under Art. 371C are rendered a toothless institution by the State Government. Although the parent District Council Act of 1971 was a Parliamentary Act, subsequent amendments were arbitrarily made by the State Government in 2000, 2006, 2008, 2011 and 2018, rendering the whole purpose of the Act pointless. The Rules and Clauses were repeatedly manipulated and such twist and turns have become a regular fashion today.So, in the form they are implemented in Manipur, they neither safeguard tribal interests, nor meet their rising aspirations. For instance, the decisions of HAC are hardly honoured by the State Assembly, e.g. the FIAC’s recommendation for Sixth Schedule not being accepted is a clear example of toothless-ness and meaningless-ness.
Madam, in view of the above facts and circumstances, we beseech your kind intervention so that the Union Government;
- Gives adequate Constitutional protection to the tribals in Manipur;
- Speed up the on-going political dialogue with tribal SoO groups(UPF and KNO) and
- Establish a workable political autonomy, with Bodo Territorial Council as the model, in order to fulfil the age-old political aspirations of the tribals in the State.
Thanking you in anticipation.
(JOHN K. NGAIHTE)
Chairman, Zomi Council
Gen. Secretary, Zomi Council
President, Vaiphei People’s Council
Gen. Secretary, Vaiphei People’s Council
President, Simte Tribe Council
Gen. Secretary, Simte Tribes Council
President, United Zou Organisation
Gen. Secretary, United Zou Organisation
President, Paite Tribe Council
Gen. Secretary, Paite Tribe Council
President, Gangte Tribe Council
Gen. Secretary, Gangte Tribe Council
(H. PAU ZA CIN)
President, Tedim-Chin Union
(S.ZAM KHAN PAU)
Gen. Secretary, Tedim-Chin Union
President, Thangkhal Tribe Council
Gen. Secretary, Thangkhal Tribe Council
President, Mate Tribe Council
Gen. Secretary, Mate Tribe Council
President, Kom Union, Manipur
Gen. Secretary, Kom Union, Manipur
Copy to :
(i) Shri H.K. Damor, Hon’ble Member, NCST, Govt. of India
(ii) Shri. PT. Jameskuti, Dy. Secretary, NCST, Govt. of India
(iii) All President/Secretary, Zomi Council constituent Tribes.
Gen. Secretary, Zomi Council