Manipur tribals to observe unity day on Aug 31

Imphal, Aug 23 (IANS) A Manipur activist group will observe “Tribal Unity Day” on August 31 to remember nine people who were killed in early September last year — and have not been buried as yet — in violent protests against three controversial lawws that allegedly deprived tribals of the right to their land.

The Manipur assembly passed the bills on August 31 last year. But the legislations have not been converted into law because “the president has withheld one bill and sent back two others”, according to Deputy Chief Minister Gaikhangam Gangmei.

The bills created an uproar, sparking violent protests in the Churachandpur area and the nine were killed in the days of agitation that lasted till September 10.

The Joint Action Committee (JAC) that spearheaded the protests said the “Tribal Unity Day” will be observed in memory of the dead.

“The function (beginning August 31) will continue for one week. People from all walks of life are expected to take part,” a JAC spokesman said.

The activist group has refused to bury the bodies lying in a hospital morgue in protest against the bills. It wants the government to withdraw the bills.

“All anti-migrant bills are anti-tribals and as such we shall object,” the JAC spokesperson said.

But the deputy chief minister said since there was no bill now, “there is no justification for carrying on the agitation”.

Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh had urged the JAC and other tribal activists to point out any clause in the bills which they feel are against the interest of the tribals.

Khaidem Mani a senior advocate who is closely associated with the campaign said: “Nobody has pointed out any such clause.”



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