Updated on 8 Nov 2021, 7:53 pm
Representational Image (Photo: Pixabay)
As the 2022 Manipur assembly elections draws nearer and nearer, the BJP leadership except for Chief Minister N Biren Singh is strangely silent on the campaign by hill based MLAs cutting across party lines and CSOs with regard to the proposed ADC amendment bill. At every available opportunity, the chief minister had been making his appeal to reject politicians who are playing with fire in the hill-valley relationship while also clarifying that the state alone cannot decide on the proposed ADC bill as it encroaches on the Central list and also the fact that an act passed by the Parliament can only be amended by the Parliament. While asserting that the state government will always work under the ambit of the Indian Constitution, he also talked of providing more autonomy to ADCs at the last Go to Hills campaign held at Maram Khullen. Despite protests, ‘Go to Hills’ campaign was held in the districts of Chandel, Kangpokpi, Churachandpur, Tamenglong and lastly Senapati district at Maram Khullen. It was met with a tragedy in Tamenglong district when one of its most vocal supporters Athuan Abonmei was abducted from a function site and brutally murdered by suspected NSCN (I-M) elements. While the campaign at Senapati district headquarters was met with resistance and a bandh, Ukhrul district CSOs are still to give a go-ahead to the campaign. On the other hand, the hill MLAs under the banner of Hill Areas Committee (HAC) have been continuing with its campaign for the bill which seeks more power for the ADCs. Although the intended objective of the campaign was to consolidate and increase the vote bank of a particular party allied with the BJP, it has also resulted in creating deep fissures in the hill-valley relations.
In the not so distant past, the hill based CSOs who had been demanding early elections for the ADCs have now joined forces with those who had been stalling it all along. The all-powerful ATSUM had been talking about ‘a sinister design to divide the tribals’ and trampling on tribal rights by the state government by postponing ADC elections again and again. Again, the UNC opposition to the creation of new revenue districts or demand for creation of ADCs for the new districts had been shelved for the time being. On the other hand, the issue of NSCN (I-M) threat to RTI activists seeking details of utilisation of funds under the various Autonomous District Councils (ADCs) somehow disappeared from the public radar. The Movement for Peoples’ Rights Forum, Manipur had written to the Union Home Minister for taking prompt action to save the lives of four RTI applicants of Senapati District who had been repeatedly threatened and intimidated by some cadres of NSCN (I-M) Shepoumaramath Region. The Manipur Human Rights Commission (MHRC) had also directed the Director General of Police (DGP) and special secretary (Home), government of Manipur to provide police protection to RTI activists and provide them a secure place. The MHRC gave the directive in connection with a suo-motu case taken up on the basis of news reports published in various media and social media platforms. The reports stated that two RTI activists reportedly faced reprisal after they filed RTI applications in respect to development works of Senapati district. Earlier, we had written about the leakages in development funds sanctioned through the ADCs. It seems nobody is interested with the issue of leakages of development funds poured through the ADCs in the last few decades whether there is an elected body or not. Ever since the NSCN (I-M) threat, the RTI activists had been running from pillar to post seeking protection and justice. From Manipur State Human Rights Commission through Manipur State Information Commission they have even complained to Lok Ayukta.