Congress opposes Centre’s talks over Manipur bills

Imphal Jan 12 (IANS) The central representatives’ participation in the talks over the three pending bills related to implementation of the Inner Line Permit (ILP) in Manipur is not “acceptable”, Congress legislator R.K. Anand said here on Tuesday.

A trouble shooter of the chief minister, Anand was associated with the protracted talks with the ILP campaigners.

He said the three bills meant to regulate the entry and stay of non-Manipuris were passed by the Manipur assembly on August 31 last year after detailed discussions by the members of parliament and legislative assembly from Manipur.

“If the bills are now to be discussed under the supervision of the central representatives, it will send a wrong message and this is unacceptable,” he said echoing the stand of Chief Minister Okram Ibobi on the issue.

The chief minister is not happy that some tribal groups took out a “coffin procession” in Delhi recently and it sent a misleading message of the tribals being exploited in Manipur.

Nine tribal youths were killed in Churachandpur district during anti-ILP campaign. The bodies are still lying in the district morgue all these months, as the activists have refused to claim the bodies and conduct their last rites, saying first the “anti-tribal bills should be withdrawn”.

These bills, passed unanimously in the Manipur assembly have been sent to the President by the governor in view of the serious issues associated with them.

Anand said: “The non-tribals in Manipur do not enjoy any constitutional protection and they are nearing extinction.”

Meanwhile, Ratan Khomdram, who is the convener of the Joint Committee on the Inner Line Permit System, said the next phase of the ILP campaign would be announced shortly.

The deadline for giving assent to the three bills was January 3. He explained that the campaign was not announced because of the earthquake that struck the state recently.

So far, there is no meeting point between the anti- and pro-ILP groups in Manipur and there is growing fear of a communal flare-up if the “anti-tribal bills” are given assent, officials say.

During a meeting with the tribal activists last month, Chief Minister Ibobi made it clear that the impasse should be sorted out bilaterally.

He reiterated that the bills were not anti-tribal and if there was anything to the contrary, the government would make amends if the issues were pointed out.

Deputy Chief Minister Gaikhangam says: “Some scheming persons skim read the bills to mislead the people with tendentious interpretations”.

While the tribal groups insist on withdrawal of the bills, the non-tribals say there should be no further delay in giving assent to these bills.

All these months the Centre has been staying at a safe distance and there has been no comment on the proposal for the central participation in the negotiations.

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