Updated 13 Jun 2022, 6:24 pm
Tangkhul civil society organisations on Sunday refuted Chief Minister N Biren Singh’s statement on land ownership in hill areas, stating that they are the sole owners of their land "which has been passed down to them by their forefathers."
In a joint statement, the CSOs stated that land is the identity for tribal communities and they have a sacred connection with it since time immemorial.
“We are indigenous to our land and thus are the sole owners,” the CSOs stated. "The British, having understood this right from the early days, created laws to honour the tribal communities’ relationship with their land. This birthright must be respected," it stated.
The remarks of N Biren Singh on hills belonging to Mother Nature and not to any particular community is unacceptable and should be withdrawn immediately, it stated.
In Clause (B) of Section 2 of the Protection of Manipur People Bill, 2015 (PMP Bill) passed by the Manipur Assembly on August 31, 2015, ‘Manipur People’ is defined as ‘persons of Manipur whose name are in the National Register of Citizens, 1951, Census Report 1951 and Village Directory of 1951 and their descendants who have contributed to the collective social, cultural and economic life of Manipur’, it stated.
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By this definition, many people of the hills would not qualify for inclusion in the NRC, the statement read. It further alleged that proper census was not maintained in the Hills, least of all in 1951.
Also, Sections 14A (1) inserted in August 31, 2015, after section 14 of the Principal MLR and LR Act of 1960, states that “notwithstanding anything contained in this Act, Non-Manipur persons, firms, institutions or any other similar entities who intend to purchase any land in the State of Manipur shall submit an application to the deputy commissioner of the district concerned where the land to be purchased is situated for obtaining the prior approval of the state government before such purchase is made by him,” it stated.
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In other words, anyone from ‘mainland India’ or the Hills of Manipur can buy land in the Valley (the Principal MLR and LR Act, 1960 does not extend to the Hills so Section 14 (1) does not apply to the Hills) provided he/she is desirous of buying that land procured necessary approval from the state government, it stated.
The Hills of Manipur, on the other hand, does not permit any non-indigenous person from the Valley, ‘mainland India’ or tribals from other states of India to buy or acquire land, it mentioned.
“Article 371C guarantees us this right. The 2nd Schedule of the Manipur Legislative Assembly (Hill Areas Committee) Order, 1972 expressly puts land and land use of the hills under the exclusive purview of the Hill Areas Committee,” it added.
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First published:12 Jun 2022, 2:05 pm
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IFP Correspondent, Ukhrul, Manipur