Imphal: A collective of Manipur tribal students in New Delhi submitted a memorandum to President Ram Nath Kovind, seeking his intervention in the contentious Autonomous District Council Bill 2021 recommended by Hill Areas Committee (HAC).

The memorandum said the reluctance of the Manipur government to table the proposed Bill indicates the operation of majoritarian democracy and a hegemonic rule over a population of minority groups in the Hill Areas.

When Manipur attained statehood in 1972, a special provision to protect and safeguard the interest of the hill people of Manipur, Article 317C, was inserted in the Constitution of India. 

Under the mandate of Article 317C, the then President of India, V V Giri, made an order, namely the Manipur Legislative Assembly (Hill Areas Committee) Order, 1972, to maintain the student body.

“Paragraph 4 of the said Presidential Order has categorically stated that all the Scheduled matter related to the Hill Areas shall be within the purview of the Hill Areas Committee, and therefore, the HAC has an absolute right to bring any legislation in the assembly for protecting and safeguarding the interest of the hill people of Manipur,” the memorandum said. 

It added that under the provision of the said Presidential Order, the HAC proposed the Bill, namely The Manipur (Hill Areas) Autonomous District Council Bill, 2021, for introduction in the 13th session of the 11th Manipur Legislative Assembly as a government Bill on August 20, 2021.

However, the student body said that the Manipur government was not only reluctant in introducing the Bill, they accused the HAC of trying to ‘divide the state government’.

Since then, tensions have been high between the hill tribes and the state government, it stated.

While appealing the President’s intervention for the judicious introduction and passage of the Manipur (Hill Areas) ADC Bill, 2021 in the forthcoming winter session of Manipur Assembly, the tribal student union also stated that the proposed Bill would bring a better administration to the Scheduled areas in the state.

The memorandum was signed by the Kuki Students’ Organisation Delhi & NCR, Tangkhul Katamnao Long Delhi, Gangte Students’ Organisation joint headquarters Delhi & NCR, Inpui Students’ Union Delhi, Hmar Students’ Association joint headquarters Delhi and Zeliangrong Student Union Delhi. 

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