YCM expressed the hope that political parties cutting across the ideological spectrum will incorporate the points delineated in the format of recommendations when preparing their own party manifestos for the upcoming elections.
After a series of consultations and minute deliberations with representatives of civil society groups, activists, researchers, experts in various fields, and media representatives, Youth Collective Manipur (YCM) on Wednesday released a People’s Manifesto ahead of Manipur Assembly Election 2022.
After the release, the copy of the manifesto was shared with former Union Minister Jairam Ramesh, who is also the Congress Party’s poll observer for Manipur. Jairam Ramesh along with former Deputy Chief Minister of Manipur and Congress leader Gaikhangam Gangmei “reached out” to YCM for a consultation regarding the same.
The manifesto had also been shared with a few other political parties with an accompanying letter seeking time with the party representatives to discuss the issues raised in the People’s Manifesto.
“Over the next few days, we will be submitting a copy of the Manifesto to all the political parties contesting elections in the state, and we hope to have a conversation with party leaders and intending candidates about the same”, said YCM members.
YCM also expressed the hope that political parties cutting across the ideological spectrum will incorporate the points delineated in the format of recommendations when preparing their own party manifestos.
The introduction to the People’s Manifesto to be submitted to all political parties before the Manipur Assembly Election 2022 says, “Manipur is heading for State Assembly Election in early 2022. The BJP led government is completing its full term. Notwithstanding the high-pitched rhetoric of “citizen-centric governance”, “improved law and order situation” and innovative programmes such as “Go to Village”, “Go to Hills”, “War on Drugs” etc., most of the poll promises remain unfulfilled. The people of Manipur continue to experience unmitigated under-development, rampant unemployment, institutionalized corruption, the constant erosion of civil liberties, and heavy-handed state repression. The sheer indifference shown by all ruling regimes to the issues confronted by the people has prompted civil society groups to come together and bring forth the issues confronting the people of Manipur.”
YCM exuded confidence that the political parties will ponder upon the issues highlighted while formulating their manifestos.
The text of the People’s Manifesto is as follows:
POLITICAL & HUMAN RIGHTS
Conscious of the rapid geopolitical changes sweeping across the region and the existence of unaddressed political issues rooted in the “controversial merger of Manipur” in 1949, which has escalated into a complex and protracted armed conflict,
1. A humane, inclusive, comprehensive, transparent, and sustainable peace process should be initiated at the earliest.
2. Realizing that true national security emanates from safeguarding the security of the people and not the other way round, and thus the prolonged imposition of draconian laws like the Armed Forces Special Powers Act, 1958, which suspends the right to life itself, have caused more harm than good, The Armed Forces Special Powers Act, 1958 should be repealed immediately.
3. Noting that Manipur has the dubious distinction of having by far the highest number of detainees under Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) and the abuse of National Security Act (NSA) as well as section 124A of the Indian Penal Code, (Sedition) has crossed the bizarre and ridiculous limits and that investigation period is extendable in Manipur under a special amendment in Section 167 of the Criminal Procedure Code.
a. Stop discriminatory application of repressive laws and repeal UAPA, NSA, Section 124A IPC as well as the Manipur amendment on section 167 of Cr.PC.
b. Restore Rule of Law and independence of the judiciary by restraining the political executive from interfering and manipulating the Criminal Justice System for personal and political considerations.
4. Acknowledging that 1,528 extra-judicial killings in Manipur from 1979 to 2012 by security forces pending in the Supreme Court of India is moving at an extremely slow pace,
a. Ensure that prompt, thorough, independent, and impartial investigation is conducted in all cases of extrajudicial killings without any further delay.
b. Prosecution sanctions should be promptly granted to all persons found to be involved in extrajudicial killings, through the evidence gathered by the CBI as per the directive of the Supreme Court, irrespective of whether they are personnel of Manipur Police or Armed Forces of the Union.
c. A Truth Commission should be established to unearth the whole truth behind the mass extrajudicial killings in Manipur. Effective, time-bound, and practical measures should be taken up to ensure restitution of the loss suffered by the victim families. Guarantee the none repetition of such atrocities in the future.
FOOD & AGRICULTURE
5. Recalling that Manipur was once a food surplus economy that has gradually degenerated to a food deficit economy, there is an urgent need to restore the food self-reliance status through a concerted effort including appropriate agriculture policy. To this end the following actions should be taken up:
a. Agricultural water and irrigation network should be made effective by at least augmenting the existing dysfunctional irrigation system. (2/3rd of the River Lift Irrigation projects is non-functional and needs repair).
b. Locally produced surplus food grains should be mandatory procured by the Government by fixing a minimum procurement price and it should be distributed through the public distribution system. It would not only provide a stable market for the marginalised farmer, but the local produce will also be more nutritious and palatable.
c. Set up an Agricultural Commodities Procurement Commission (ACPC) and the Agricultural Produce & Livestock Market Committee (APMC) to streamline and channelize all agricultural produce of the state.
d. Revive Land Use Board for effective utilisation and safeguarding of cultivable land all across the state.
e. Provide subsidies and incentives to the local farmers and peasants to enable multiple cropping and ensure sustainability and productivity.
f. Effective implementation of the Manipur Conservation of Paddyland and Wetland Act, 2014
g. Develop a Mountain Agriculture Policy by establishing relevant institutions, policies, and funding suited to the specific mountain ecosystem of Manipur.
h. Review all policies related to farmers and landless peasants, halt monopoly on agriculture-based commerce and business. Bring in a moratorium on predator multinational or big companies including the much talked about Plam Oil Plantation.
HUMAN RESOURCE & DEVELOPMENT
6. Deeply concerned that Manipur suffers from a chronic problem of unemployment and underemployment and at the same time realizing that human resource is the greatest asset of our society:
a. Evolve a state-specific strategy to generate employment for the youth.
b. Ensure availability of seed funding in the form of grants and equity for early-stage start-ups, especially those pursuing innovative and experimental ideas.
c. Igniting the sense of entrepreneurship amongst the youth with the focus on mobilization of indigenous natural and tangible cultural resources.
d. A white paper on external loans and investments from international financial institutions should be made public.
7. Considering the high incidence of violence against women and children, such as conflict widows and orphans, victims of sexual assault, victims of human trafficking, sexual minorities and other marginalised and excluded communities generated by the ongoing armed conflict;
a. Sufficient funds should be allocated for the Victim Compensation Scheme to ensure that victims of the violence can promptly obtain interim relief.
b. Ensure elective participation of women and children while formulating policies pertaining to health and hygiene, especially during pandemics and other emergencies.
8. Deeply concerned that the Ithai Barrage located south of Loktak Lake, which is part of the Loktak Hydroelectric project, has affected the hydrology of the Loktak Lake causing irreversible harm to the ecology and economy of Manipur. Ithai Barrage should be decommissioned in a phased manner.
9. Noting that the Government of Manipur has signed several Memorandum of Understandings with various corporates in order to exploit natural resources of the state without taking the people in confidence, No natural resource based on extractive economy, mining, and petroleum oil exploration should be carried out without first obtaining the Free and Prior Informed Consent of the people.
10. Recalling the Manipur State Durbar resolution of 1932 entitled people of Manipur with certain rights over the forests for better management and safeguarding of the rich forest cover both in the valley and hills of the state and emphasizing that the Government of Manipur has the obligation to provide ecological safeguards to its citizens as per international human rights standards. All forest laws enacted by the Government of India should be reviewed in light of the international human rights standards.
11. Alarmed by the rapid spread of poppy cultivation in the hill districts of Manipur and the devastating impact on public health even as thousands of young people fall prey to the easy availability of cheap narcotic drugs on the one hand; and the corrupting effect of the lucrative drug trade eating up the vital institutions of the state, including the law enforcement agencies, judiciary as well as the legislature.
a. Concerted efforts should be taken up to uproot and eradicate illegal poppy plantations and drug trafficking by effective implementation of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act (1985) and the Prevention of Illicit Trafficking in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act (1988)
b. Investigation of drug hauls of narcotic worth which is considered as substantial in nature should be handed over to a central agency that cannot be influenced by the local politicians
c. Persons charged with involvement in drug trafficking should be disqualified from holding public offices, including contesting elections.