Protest marks 100th day of death of nine Manipuri tribals

New Delhi : Thousands of Manipuri tribals in the national capital on Wednesday marked the 100th day of death of nine people, who were killed during violence in the northeastern state in the wake of the state assembly passing three bills three months ago.

The protestors thronged Jantar Mantar here and reiterated their demand to scrap the three bills, which according to them were an attempt by the Manipur government to deprive the tribals of their land rights in the state.

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The three bills were Protection of Manipur People Bill, 2015, Manipur Land Revenue and Land Reforms Bill, 2015, and Manipur Shops and Establishments Bill, 2015. Manipur’s tribal population has taken exception to these.

Following the clearance of the three controversial bills on August 30, the state witnessed violence and saw the death of nine tribal people in Churachandpur district of Manipur.

The bodies have been kept in the mortuary and are yet to be buried following the demand by the tribals to scrap the bills.

In a fresh memorandum to the central government, the Manipur Tribal Forum Delhi (MTFD) demanded the tribal hill areas of Manipur be included in the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution. Under the provisions, the tribals would be able to take decisions relating to land, identity and community.

The protestors, who wielded placards and banners reading “F*** Manipur Government”, “Total Separation, the Only Solution” and “Blood of nine people will not go in vain”, also tried to march towards the Parliament complex, but were stopped by Delhi Police.

Lok Sabha member from Nagaland Nephiu Rio, Rajya Sabha member from Uttrakhand Tarun Vijay and Lok Sabha member from Tripura Jitendra Chaudhary were also present and expressed their solidarity with the Manipur tribals.

Rio said: “In today’s democracy the majority is right, but we (tribals) being the minority are not being heard. It’s completely unacceptable as without conditions the three bills were passed and the tribals were not given the chance to share their sentiments over the bills.”

“Prime Minister Narendra Modi has also directed for an early solution for the Manipur issue and we will ensure that the problem gets solved soon,” said Rio.

Tarun Vijay said: “The Manipuri tribals should never think they are alone.”

The Manipur Land Reforms Bill, which ostensibly brings all land under the Manipur government, makes its sale to outsiders difficult.

The tribal belt of Manipur comprising five districts — Ukhrul, Senapati, Tamenglong, Chandel and Churachandpur – constitute 75 percent of the state’s area.