Imphal, June 10: The United Naga Council (UNC) has announced a 48-hour total bandh in Naga areas with effect from the midnight of June 16 till midnight of June 18 to protest alleged unabated communal actions and policies of the Government of Manipur and to urge the Government of India to expedite its intervention for an ‘Alternative Arrangement’.
However, medical services, fire-brigade, media, power and telecommunication departments would be exempted from the purview of the total bandh, said a press release issued by UNC Publicity Wing.
Although there is a process of dialogue of the Government of Manipur (GoM), Government of India (GoI) and the Nagas in Manipur under the aegis of the United Naga Council (UNC) to address the demand for an Alternative Arrangement for the Nagas in Manipur outside the Government of Manipur, pending settlement of the Indo-Naga issue, in utter disrespect of the democratic process, the communal onslaught of the State Government continues relentlessly through administrative orders, gazettes, notifications etc to usurp the land and destroy the traditional institutions and village republics of the Nagas and tribals, the UNC said.
It added that instead of amending the Village Authority Act of 1956 and empowering their traditional institutions which has been the long standing demand of the tribals, the State Government has issued an office memorandum dated 6th January 2014 in its Gazette for establishment of Village Development Committee (VDC) in each village in the name of development.
The VDCs are to be chosen by the general body of the village without the involvement or endorsement of the village council/village authority, which is the ultimate traditional authority of the village, the press release said.
Instead of strengthening the village council/village authority, a parallel body with development function is to be put in place, it said and added that the village which is the primary polity of the tribals is being pushed into a ‘conflict and division’ situation.
This is a move to destroy the village republic system of the Nagas and the tribals, the press release alleged.
Although Manipur Land Revenue and Land Reforms Act, 1960 (MLR&LR Act) is not applicable in the tribal area of the hills, the State Government after passing the Bill for a Separate Revenue Directorate for the hills in 2012, proceeded with notifications dated 3rd March, 2014 to extend the jurisdiction of the Revenue Tribunal Manipur to Ukhrul, Tamenglong, Chandel and Churachandpur and the District Judge, Senapati has been appointed as the Presiding Officer, Revenue Tribunal Senapati, it added.
Every Naga village and tribe have their own distinct territorial boundary and jurisdiction, the press release said and added that the tribals have their own way of life.
To them the land and the people cannot be parted as their culture, tradition and identity are interwoven with the land, it added.
The press release further said that constitution of Revenue tribunals in the tribal districts is a subtle move to get around the MLR&LR Act and legitimize the usurpation of the ancestral lands of the tribals.
UNC said, “We had also brought out in the public domain vide our Press Statement dated 14th October, 2013 our strong views on the inclusion of 120 tribal villages under Saikul Sub-division of Senapati District by the Government of Manipur (GoM) under various police stations of Imphal East District and Thoubal District, both of which are valley districts”.
The apex Naga body said, “Why can the tribal villages not continue under the original Police stations or if felt necessary, why cannot new police stations be opened up in the respective Districts? The communal GoM seeks to control the tribals and their land through its policing machinery by tagging the above villages to Police Stations of the Imphal valley districts and by diluting the distinct district boundaries”.
The press release said that there is clear intent to alienate the tribals from their traditional land and weaken their village republics by stealth and seemingly innocuous administrative orders/notifications and to also deprive them of every opportunity.
It added that it is an alarming situation where the tribals have to be ever vigilant.
The intervention of the Government of India with an alternative arrangement outside of the Government of Manipur therefore assumes greater urgency to prevent the legitimisation of the usurpation of the lands of the tribals and destruction of their traditional institutions, the press release said.