August 22, 2021 10:37:00 pm
As many as eight valley-based civil bodies of Manipur have voiced their strong opposition to the Manipur (Hill Areas) Autonomous District Councils Bill 2021.
The development comes in the wake of the 24-hour total shutdown in the hill districts called by All Tribal Students’ Union Manipur (ATSUM). The shutdown which will come into effect from Sunday midnight has been called to protest the alleged failure of the state to table the Bill in the ongoing Manipur Assembly session.
The civil bodies, in a public discourse held on Sunday, unanimously decided to pressure the government not to table the Bill in the House terming it “sensitive”. This is contrary to the ATSUM’s claim that the Bill is for the welfare of tribal people and to bring “equal development” in hill districts.
The civil bodies alleged that the Bill contains maximum provisions and objectives of the contentious “Naga Autonomous Territorial Council and Kuki Autonomous Territorial Council” which the Manipuri people have been opposing.
Moreover, the salient features of the Bill duplicates almost all the provisions of the Sixth Schedule of the Indian Constitution which is also not acceptable to the majority population of the state, they asserted.
“The idea of separate administration within the tiny state of Manipur has always been opposed and contested by the majority of the population who believe in the idea of co-existence and equitable sharing,” they said.
The civil bodies also appealed to all the hill leaders and CSOs to come forward for a transparent discussion and analysis of the content of the said Bill and to cooperate in working out an amicable solution to make an inclusive and judicious Bill acceptable to all the stakeholders of the state.
According to Hill Areas Committee (HAC), said the new draft bill seeks to repeal and replace the Manipur (Hill Areas) District Councils Act, 1971, in order to provide more autonomy to the HAC and the district councils.
Article 371C of the constitution of India provides for separate schemes for the administration of the hill areas in Manipur through Hill Areas Committee and district councils.
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