FROM OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT
IMPHAL, September 8: The Nepalis who have settled in Manipur have drawn flaks as some of them had reportedly said something against the three bills which were passed in the Assembly on August 31. These bills are meant to regulate the entry of the non locals. It does not envisage deporting or banning entry of the outsiders though some sections say that it is against these people.
There have been acid comments on the reported criticism by some Nepalis. It was pointed out that they should remain as Manipuris and should not forget that they had come to Manipur from wherever they had been staying.
Records say that in 1946 the then king of Manipur had permitted the construction of 64 houses of the Nepalis in Manipur. The British had conscripted the Nepalis as foot soldiers in the paramilitary forces in general and Assam Rifles in particular. These houses were meant for the retired foot soldiers.
However some NGOs told reporters that by now the population of the Nepalis in Manipur are more than 300,000. The population was so domiting that Nepali politician, Kishore Thappa, was elected from a predomintly tribal constituency some decade’s back.
It is alleged that lorry and bus drivers used to smuggle the Nepalis from some parts of North Eastern region in general and Assam in particular on payment of huge hush money. Once they landed in Manipur they could obtain “domicile certificate” from the authorities in due course. These official certificates said that they have been in Manipur for a long time and legally they were treated as bo fide citizens of the state.
Some MLAs have said that it is not good to side with some communities on this migrant issue for their persol gains. It is instructive to recall that during the anti foreigners’ movement some Nepali villagers in rural areas were targeted for arson.
These elected members and other activists have underlined that the three bills have no provision which will target the communities in the state. They have also taken strong exception to the inflammatory statements of the Mizoram chief minister Lal Thanhawla. He was reported to have he urged the prime minister not to give assent to the bills since these are anti tribal. It is yet to be explained to the people and the prime minister why the Inner Line Permit system to be introduced in Manipur is anti tribal while the same Act in his Mizoram is not against the tribals. I. Ibohanbi, a TMC MLA in Manipur made frontal attack against the Mizoram chief minister saying that it appears to show that people who cannot read the bills are presenting a distorted picture. Lal Thanhawla is yet to make a clarification on his incompatible stands.
Meanwhile there is no indication that the tribal students and some tribal NGOs are convinced by the statements of the chief minister, other ministers and prominent citizens. They have shut down the educatiol institutes, asked the elected representatives numbering 20 to resign in protest against the three bills. Though they have been holding talk’s with the chief minister there is very little choice. Houses and properties of several tribal Ministers, MLAs and other holding non ministerial posts of the rank and status of ministers were torched during the mob violence.