Imphal: BJP MLA RK Imo calls for a new Law which allows equality for everyone, a Land Law which is equal for all citizens of Manipur.
Imo seeks cooperation from all MLAs to amend MLR and LR Act which, he says, will benefit the indigenous people of the state.
He wrote a letter on Sunday to all his colleague members of the Legislative Assembly of Manipur seeking their attention and support for the cause of the people of Manipur.
Manipur has been reeling under the conflict since May 3, which has resulted in loss of lives, many injured, displacement of thousands of people, and destruction of properties across the dtate, the MLA mentioned.
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, Imo 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 Iand in the valley and settle down there 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,” he added.
In the period between 1988-90, during the chief ministership of Imo’s late father RK Jaichandra Singh, he had initiated to amend this MLR and LR Act so that it is extended across the whole state. To ensure the smooth passage of the Bill, he had discussed with various village chiefs from the Hill districts along with the Legislators and other stakeholders to allow the MLR and LR Act, be extended in their areas, which would entitle them as legal owners of per the revenue records and bring more development and progress in their localities, Imo said.
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 his 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, he added.
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 setile there in the Hill districts. 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, Imo said.
In the year 2020, as a Legislator of Sagolband, he said he 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 (N.Biren Singh) 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 MLA said.
He said 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 or 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.
“It is at this juncture, perhaps the most important moment in history of the people of our state, to seek for a new law which allows equality for everyone, a Land Law which is equal for all citizens of the state.”
“Thus, as a Legislator of the State, I seek the cooperation of all the Members of the August House to stand united and amend the MLR and LR Act in the Manipur Legislative Assembly, which will benefit the indigenous people of the state.”
“Let us all unite for this cause and move together for the Act to be applicable and extended in the whole state of Manipur. As this is an act of Parliament, it has to be ultimately ratified and amended in Parliament for which we all should initiate in one voice,” the BJP MLA said.