GUWAHATI: A Bill, passed by the Manipur Assembly, has virtually set a district in the state on fire.
After a bout of violence that left several people injured, the authorities imposed prohibitory orders under Section 144 CrPC in the whole of Jiribam district for an indefinite period.
Trouble started brewing after the Assembly had passed the Manipur People’s Protection Bill, 2018 three days ago. The Bill set 1951 as the base year to identify locals. The idea was to protect the identity of locals from the influx of outsiders. Once the Bill gets the Governor’s nod and becomes an Act, outsiders, who came to the state after 1951, will be viewed as “foreigners”. Also, the Bill states that such people will have no voting rights or land rights.
There has been a steady migration of people, mostly Bengali Muslims and Hindus from southern Assam’s Barak Valley, to Manipur, particularly Jiribam, for a long time. These people are now enraged. They argue as to how the Manipur government could fix 1951 as the cut off year to say who is a local and who is not when the state attained statehood in 1972.
The All Jiribam United Minority People’s Joint Action Committee (JAC), which has been very critical of the Bill, demanded that the cut-off year be made 1972. It claimed that no proper documents were issued to the migrants in Jiribam by the government during the period of 1951.
At least ten people were injured when the protestors clashed with the police in Jiribam on Friday. The injured included Jiribam Superintendent of Police M Mubi Singh.
“Hundreds of protestors, which included both Bengali Hindus and Muslims, took out a rally on Friday. Even as we were advising them that if they had any issue they should take it up with the government, they suddenly started attacking us by pelting stones. I myself got injured in my right hand and was briefly hospitalised. The officer-in-charge of the local police station was also beaten up by the protestors. A policewoman was also injured,” Singh told TNIE.
He said the situation on Saturday was tense but under control. “I learnt that they were mobilising in interior places of the district. If they try to be violent again, there will be serious consequences,” he warned.