Imphal/New Delhi, June 7 (IANS) President Pranab Mukherjee withheld his assent on May 11 — nearly a month ago — to three anti-migrant bills passed by the Manipur Assembly which are aimed at regulating the entry and stay of migrants in the state.
An official document, a copy of which is with IANS, says that the President has remarked: “I withhold assent from the bills.”
No reason was furnished for the decision.
This implies that the Chief Minister of Manipur and other political leaders were keeping this information as a closely guarded secret from the people who were in blissful ignorance as they took out demonstrations in the streets to demand implementation of the Inner Line Permit (ILP) in Manipur, to protect the indigenous people of the state.
The Speaker of the Manipur Legislative Assembly Thokchom Lokeswor sent the bills to Governor Sayeed Ahmed on August 31, 2015, the day they were passed in the Assembly.
The contentious bills are the Manipur Land Reforms and Land Revenue (7th Amendment) Bill, 2015, the Manipur Shops and Establishment (2nd Amendment) Bill, 2015 and the Manipur Protection of Peoples Bill, 2015.
In view of the opposition from the tribal groups in the state, the governor did not give his assent to the bills but sent them to the President on September 16, 2015 with the remark: “I reserve the bills for consideration of the President.”
While the bills were pending in the office of the President there were various forms of agitation in Manipur. At least 10 persons — one supporting the bills and nine opposing the legislations — were killed and a few hundred others were injured in police crackdowns.
Normal life has been thrown out of gear as a result of the continuous agitations. The nine dead bodies of the tribals have been lying in the morgue in Churachandpur district all these months.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) state leaders called on Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh and Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju on the issue.
The delegates of the political parties from Manipur also held a meeting with Rajnath Singh on Tuesday during which a memorandum was submitted. After the meeting, the delegates held a protracted meeting in Manipur House, in Delhi.
It is understood that Rajnath Singh has conveyed the impossibility of acting on the bills now that the President has withheld his assent.
The agitationists in Manipur have made it clear that if the delegates return to Manipur empty-handed they will face the wrath of the people.
The activists are also not happy that the government withheld information about the action by the President since the last month and allowed the people to go on strike.
Meanwhile, tribal organisations, apprehensive of the reaction from the central leaders, have given final touches to launch agitations from Thursday onwards.