Manipur legislator RK Imo Singh on September 10 sought support from the members of the Manipur Legislative Assembly to bring an amendment to the land reform laws and proposed for equal land rights for the people of the Hills and Valley.
In a letter to all the members of the Legislative Assembly, MLA Imo Singh said, “I write this letter to all my colleague Members of the Legislative Assembly of Manipur to seek your kind attention and support for the cause of the people of Manipur. Our State of Manipur has been reeling under the conflict since 3r May, which has resulted in loss of lives, many injured, displacement of thousands of people, and destruction of properties across the State. The State Government has been following its policy of ensure the safeguard of indigenous people across the State, policies of action against illegal migrants, narcotics, insurgent groups violating ground rules of ceasefire, eviction drive in reserved and protected forest across the State. Due to the constant drive by the State Government to protect the indigenous people, the Central Government enacted the Inner Line Permit in the State in 2019, with the base year at 1961, a dream turned into reality for the people of the State”.
Speaking on the earlier proposal for the amendment of Manipur Land Revenue and Land reforms Act 1960, Imo Singh said, “Manipur Is a very small State, with the Valley areas concentrated in less than 10 percent of the total land of the whole State. Every person is allowed to buy land in the valley and settle down here as per their wish and choice. However the Manipur Land Revenue and Land Reforms Act 1960, a law enacted by Parliament is only applicable and extended in the valley areas and some areas of the hill districts, thus It is not extended in the Hill Districts in general. This literally means that any person belonging to the Valley is not allowed to buy land in the Hill Districts of their own State, while they can buy land anywhere else in the country and even in other countries too. It is one of the most illogical, controversial and biased law ever enacted by Parliament which forbids the Valley people from buying such lands, except for few areas mentioned in the Act”.
“However, this failed to see the light as the majority legislators including the valley legislators were apprehensive to this amendment in the Act. He had warned that there will be a day when most people would regret this move to block the amendment and despite being the Chief Minister, he could not enforce this idea to have a settled Revenue Department across the State and prepare survey and records of rights in respect of permanently settled areas including the Hills. It is an irony that most powerful Tribal Leaders, Politicians, Businessmen, Village Chiefs have created an imaginary threat perception that the Valley people will go and settle there in the Hill Districts”, said Imo Singh in its letter.
Imo Singh further continued in the letter, “On the other hand, these leaders have their properties in the Valley area and enjoying the benefits while the poor tribal people in the Hills are not able to enjoy the same as the land belongs to the Chiefs, few individuals, Community as per the customary law. Extension of this Act in the Hills doesn't mean that the land will be taken over by the Government and the Valley people? It is more about determination of an individual and his rights over his property, which at this point of time is mostly enjoyed by village chiefs and other powerful leaders. It will also be a protection from Illegal Migrants settling in the Hill Districts, as the Act will protect illegal settlement as there will be proper revenue records for the whole State”.
“In the year 2020, as a Legislator of Sagolband, I had moved a motion against the State Government for a failure to bring a policy to have an equal Land Law for the Hills and the Valley. I had brought to the notice of the Chief Minister on the floor of the Manipur Assembly that the Valley people cannot buy land from the Tribals even in the valley areas without taking due permission from the DC concerned, which is in fact a very shocking and negative law for the people in the Valley.. The CM had assured in the August House that due amendments would be made to ensure this was rectified, which the State Government ultimately amended it recently. The amendment now allows Non Tribals to buy land from the Tribals without taking permission from the DC in the valley area. The Government has taken more positive steps to allow sale/purchase of lands in the Valley to only the native people living in the State, to protect all the indigenous people. A committee has been formed to oversee this new land law”, added the MLA of Sagolband.
The MLA has urged all to unite and bring a legislation that will see the equal distribution of land and amendment of the land reform laws.
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