Coming under the pressure of several civil bodies, Manipur Speaker Y Khemchand Singh had on Wednesday withdrew the order to induct nine MLAs from constituencies situated in the valley districts as members of the Hill Areas Committee (HAC).
The HAC was slated to be formed under the Manipur (Hill Areas) Autonomous District Councils Bill 2021 that the government had drafted, but its passage was obstructed by several Manipuri groups stating the HAC will deprive the majority populations within the council — the Manipuris — while the other tribal people such as the Nagas and Kukis will get bulk of the benefits.
The order had been withdrawn “to facilitate better understanding among all stakeholders”, stated an order issued from the Assembly secretariat.
Manipur Legislative Assembly Speaker Y Khemchand Singh on Wednesday withdrew the September 1st, 2021 order in connection with the induction of 9 MLAs in the Hill Areas Committee (HAC) with immediate effect.
Khemchand issued the order on September 1, stating that it was necessitated following the request of MLAs on “various grounds”. One of the reasons for the induction of the MLAs from the valley district in the HAC was that the parts of the constituencies have hills.
Terming the expansion of HAC unconstitutional, tribal bodies announced a non-cooperation movement against the state government. They also boycotted the state government’s “Go to Hills 2.0” programme which is aimed to take welfare programmes to doorsteps in the Hill districts.
The civil bodies alleged that the Bill contains maximum provisions and objectives of the contentious “Naga Autonomous Territorial Council and Kuki Autonomous Territorial Council” which the Manipuri people have been opposing.
“The idea of separate administration within the tiny state of Manipur has always been opposed and contested by the majority of the population who believe in the idea of co-existence and equitable sharing,” they said.
Tribal bodies, including the All Tribal Students’ Union Manipur (ATSUM), the All Naga Students’ Association Manipur (ANSAM), the Kuki Students’ Organisation (KSO), and its federating units also threatened to launch an intense form of agitation if the Speaker’s order was not revoked.
According to Hill Areas Committee (HAC), said the new draft bill seeks to repeal and replace the Manipur (Hill Areas) District Councils Act, 1971, in order to provide more autonomy to the HAC and the district councils.
Article 371C of the constitution of India provides for separate schemes for the administration of the hill areas in Manipur through the Hill Areas Committee and district councils.