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Citizens draw up manifesto

- Manipur-based groups list demands

Imphal, March 6: Manipur-based citizens’ groups today came out with their own “people’s manifesto” for the Lok Sabha elections, urging all political parties to include the demands in their individual manifestos and implement them.

The “people’s manifesto” lists 30 demands of the people, which include repeal of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958, and setting up of a peace-building commission for initiating a sustainable peace process.

The manifesto was finalised during the fourth round of meetings between citizens’ groups here today.

The daylong event, Consultation on People’s Manifesto, was organised by Human Rights Alert, Manipur, and Wada Na Todo Abhiyan, a platform of more than 3,000 civil society organisations across the country, in consultation with 12 citizens’ groups of Manipur.

The manifesto release was part of an all-India campaign for such a list of demands. Citizens’ bodies in other states would come out with such “people’s manifestos” soon.

Political parties in Manipur are yet to finalise and release their respective manifestos. “We will submit our manifesto to all political parties in Manipur, urging them to include our demands in their manifestos and implement them once elected,” Babloo Loitongbam, executive director of Human Rights Alert, Manipur, said.

Apart from representatives of citizens’ organisations, representatives of the Aam Aadmi Party and Janata Dal (U), academics, a retired inspector-general of police and a former MLA attended the consultation programme. The organisers had invited all parties, but barring the JD (U) and the AAP, the rest did not turn up.

Loitongbam said the “people’s manifesto” would be presented during a meeting of citizens’ groups of the Northeast scheduled for March 15 in Guwahati and another meeting in New Delhi on March 27.

The manifesto lists measures to cope with the problems of boundary disputes, rights of the indigenous people, racial discrimination of northeastern people in other parts of the country, problems of people living with HIV and LGBTI (lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transgender and inter-sex) communities, crimes against women and children, rights of differently-abled people, among others.

The manifesto also demanded legally enforceable accountability structure for all flagship programmes, a drug policy for Manipur, declaration of hepatitis C as a public health emergency, increase in Union budgetary allocation for children, development of tourism after proper environmental and social/ gender impact assessment, adoption of Manipur Food and Nutrition Policy, transparent use of MPs and MLAs local area development funds, among others.

This is the first time citizens’ groups have come out with their own election manifesto.


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