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The state government is further aggravating the wounded feeling of the tribal people by trying to impose a mere amendment to the Principal Act of 1971 rather than addressing the wish of the people for the introduction of the Manipur (Hill Areas) Autonomous District Councils Bill 2021 in the ensuing 2nd Session of the 12th Manipur Legislative Assembly and conversion of the same into an act, said ATSUM
TFM Kangpokpi Representative
Protesting against the the alleged ‘deceitful act’ of the Hill Area Committee (HAC), and the state, the All Tribal Students’ Union Manipur (ATSUM) has threatened to resort to strong agitation anytime soon if the Manipur (Hill Areas) Autonomous District Council Bill, 2021 is not tabled during the ongoing second session of the 12th Manipur Legislative Assembly.
The student body also said that the Hill Areas Committee members should own responsibility and resign on moral ground for deceiving the tribal people of the state and in the event of the union resorting to agitation, the state government should also be equally held accountable for failing to materialize the agreement reached on November 25, 2021.
ATSUM stated that Article 371 C of the Constitution of India read with the Manipur Legislative Assembly (Hill Areas Committee) Orders 1972 provided a scheme for separate administration of the hill areas of Manipur State through the Hill Areas Committee for Executive and Legislative affairs on scheduled subject matters. The Hill Areas Committee through the Autonomous District Councils is empowered with provisions for the administration of the hill areas as defined in the 1972 Presidential orders.
Since its enactment, the Manipur (Hill Areas) Autonomous District Councils, Act 1971 has gone through several amendments yet the basic principle of developing the hill areas could not be achieved but has rather resulted in disproportionate development between the hills and valley of Manipur during the said period as the principal Act including all amendments has served no purpose being toothless in nature with no financial, executive and legislative autonomy. As such, the HAC, as empowered by paragraph 4(3), paragraph 7, and Rule 12A (the Third Scheduled) of the Manipur Legislative Assembly (HAC) orders 1972, unanimously recommended the Manipur (Hill Areas) Autonomous District Councils Bill 2021 (which seeks to provide more autonomy to the ADC as envisaged under Article 371C of Indian Constitution read with the Manipur Legislative Assembly (HAC) orders 1972) on the 16th of August 2021 to be tabled and passed into an Act in the 13th session of the 11th Manipur Legislative Assembly. But, the state government flatly denied the introduction of the Bill in the said session of the Assembly.
ATSUM said that despite the fact that the HAC on August 16, 2021, unanimously recommended a bill to replace the existing principal Act of 1972 with an aim to ensure equitable development in the state of Manipur, it is learnt that the HAC is deviating from its previous position and opting on the new amendment of the Principal Act 1972 in the capacity of the Manipur (Hill Areas) District Councils (Sixth Amendment) Bill 2022.
“This deceitful act of HAC is a big blunder and a deception of the tribal people which is unforgivable and will remain as an irremovable stain in the history of the tribal populace”, it asserted.
It also recalled that since the recommendation of the Manipur (Hill Areas) Autonomous District Councils Bill 2021 by the HAC on August 16, 2021, the succeeding eleven months till today had consumed a mammoth amount of energy and time of the tribal people demanding the introduction of the Bill in the assembly session, however, the HAC seems to have taken the sentiments and wishes of the tribals into their own whims and fancies of pleasing the government.
Importantly, the Manipur state government has been clandestinely exploring every means of breaching the agreement inked with ATSUM, ANSAM, and KSO-GHQ on November 25, 2021, whereby the state government agreed to table the HAC recommended The Manipur (Hill Areas) Autonomous District Councils Bill 2021 in the winter Assembly session of 2021, it added.
However, even after a lapse of 8 months, neither was the Winter Assembly session convened nor has the Bill been introduced in the first session of the 12th Manipur Legislative assembly which was held in the month of March 2022, it further added.
ATSUM continued that the state government is further aggravating the wounded feeling of the tribal people by trying to impose a mere amendment to the Principal Act of 1971 rather than addressing the wish of the people for the introduction of the Manipur (Hill Areas) Autonomous District Councils Bill 2021 in the ensuing 2nd Session of the 12th Manipur Legislative Assembly and conversion of the same into an act.
The HAC Meeting notification vide no. 4/29/2022 – 27/LA(HAC) dated 28th July 2022 totally negated the wishes and desires of the tribal in the state. It also contradicts their own position and portraying themselves as spineless leaders. It is a matter of fact that the recommended ADC Bill 2021 carries the sentiments of tribals as the same was framed and recommended unanimously by the then members of HAC but sadly the incumbent HAC members are no longer in the position to uphold the same Bill and the tribal interest.
As per prevailing law, the constitution or formation of ADC and framing of its Bill/Act is purely within the purview of HAC. Whereas on the contrary, they have embraced the alien Bill – the Manipur (Hill Areas) District Councils (sixth Amendment) Bill 2022 sans “Autonomous” in its nomenclature.
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