Manipur: ATSUM hits back at HAC, demands clarification on statement 
ATSUM | file image Credit: EastMojo image

Imphal: The All Tribal Students’ Union Manipur (ATSUM) on Monday demanded a clarification from the Hill Areas Committee (HAC) Chairman saying that his statement on the ADC Bill 2021, which was circulated on social media, was a deliberate attempt to mislead the people of the state.

The HAC had allegedly issued a statement about the ongoing movement of ATSUM and tribals demanding the introduction of the HAC-recommended Manipur (Hill Areas) Autonomous District Councils Bill 2021 in the Manipur Legislative Assembly. 

The apex tribal student body reiterated that the movement or demand of ATSUM since August 2021 has been about their extension of support to the recommendation of the legislators (HAC members). 

“ATSUM has no personal or vested interest in the movement, but it is only supporting the Bill unanimously recommended by the HAC on August 16, 2021,” the student body clarified.

It was unfortunate to learn that the HAC chairman is alleging that the ongoing movement is incited by groups, individuals or organisations with vested interest, ATSUM said. 

“We would like to ask the chairman to clear his statement whether it is his self-interest or the resolution of the incumbent HAC members,” the body demanded.

“Legislative supremacy prevails in all accounts and is empowered by the law. HAC members across all political parties including the Bharatiya Janata Party, of which the incumbent chairman of HAC belongs, unanimously recommended a landmark bill called “The Manipur (Hill Areas) Autonomous District Councils Bill 2021” on 16th August 2021 under the chairmanship of Shri Leishiyo Keishing. This Bill aims to strengthen the autonomous district councils and ensure equity in the development of Manipur permissible under Article 371 C of the Indian Constitution read with the Manipur Legislative (HAC) Orders 1972,” ATSUM stated.

ATSUM reiterated that it is an organisation striving to ensure the law of the land to prevail in the state and has been supporting the legislators’ recommendation with no personal or hidden agenda for the past 12 months.

“By supporting the recommendation of the elected and mandated members of HAC of which the incumbent chairman is occupying the chair now, is ATSUM pursuing an unconstitutional or act of self-interest? Is ATSUM wrong in supporting the supremacy of the legislative (HAC)? How can the incumbent chairman of HAC contradict the decision of the chair which he is occupying,” the body asked.

“After the unanimous recommendation of the ADC Bill on August 16, 2021 by the HAC, and several meetings later, the state government was asked to convene a special Manipur Legislative Assembly Session to introduce and pass the recommended Bill into an Act. Therefore, the incumbent chairman of HAC should refer to the proceedings of the meetings to remind himself of the subject matter,” the student body added.

ATSUM added, “It is a known fact that the so-called Manipur (Hill Areas) District Council (Sixth Amendment) Bill 2022 and the Manipur (Hill Areas) District Council (Seventh Amendment) Bill 2022 are the handiwork of the executives to thwart legislative procedures, whereas the Manipur (Hill Areas) Autonomous District Councils Bill 2021 is a landmark Bill unanimously recommended under a permissible legislative procedures by the HAC of which the incumbent chairman is occupying the chair now. 

The crux of the impasse today is that while ATSUM is supporting the constitutionally mandated recommendation of the legislators, the incumbent chairman of HAC is supporting the executives, disowning his own constitutional obligations, alleged the body.

ATSUM and the tribal people of the state seek neither the patronage of anyone nor are they trying to snatch the rights of other communities. We are only asking for the introduction of the HAC recommended “Manipur (Hill Areas) Autonomous District Councils Bill 2021″ in the Manipur Legislative Assembly and passing of the same into an Act which will ensure equity in development in the state of Manipur. 

The student body added that HAC’s chairman should clarify if his statement made in the media reflects his personal interest, or the official resolution of the Hill Areas Committee. ATSUM and the tribal members will decide the fate of the ongoing movement, added the body.

HAC Chairman, Dinganglung Gangmei (Dipu) while speaking to a local news channel stated the HAC-recommended ADC Bill 2021 will be tabled in the State Assembly after ensuring that the Bill is politically feasible, socially acceptable, and legally sustainable.

He also expressed concern that certain vested interest groups and individuals were playing politics over the proposed bill with a hidden agenda to destabilise the state government.

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