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Separate land law promise

Imphal, April 6: The Manipur NCP unit promised to enact a separate land law for the hills to bring speedy development for the tribal people while taking a firm stand against granting any special status to any tribal group in the state.

Releasing the party’s manifesto, NCP president and MLA L. Ibomcha Singh today said enacting a separate land law for the five hill districts was long overdue and such a legislation would serve the interest of the tribal people.

NCP is fielding former bureaucrat and former minister Chungkhokai Doungel in the Outer Manipur constituency, which will go to polls on April 9. The party has not fielded any candidate in the Inner Manipur constituency. However, the NCP is supporting the Left and Secular Alliance candidate Moirangthem Nara Singh in Inner Manipur.

The Manipur Land Revenue and Land Reforms Act is not applicable in the five hill districts, as hill settlers are opposed to the land act. They prefer the traditional village land ownership system. “As there is no legally valid land ownership system in the hills, government schemes could not benefit the hill settlers much as they could not avail of loans because of absence of land ownership documents. This system must go. So we will enact a law,” Ibomcha Singh said. He added such legislation would bring communal harmony in the state and equal development opportunity.

While pushing for development of the hills, the NCP manifesto takes the pledge to thwart any attempt to grant “special status” to any of the tribal communities. Though the manifesto and NCP leaders do not elaborate on the issue of “special status”, it is clear that the NCP is totally against the United Naga Council’s demand for an alternative arrangement for administration of the Nagas living in Manipur outside the purview of the Manipur government.

The manifesto also has the national agenda that has sections for a “special agenda” for the Northeast and Manipur. Solving the problem of insurgency in the Northeast tops the while the separate law for Manipur comes second.

“NCP vows to solve the problems of insurgency in the northeastern states by ending the regional imbalance that is continuing here. It also vows to stop the alienation of youths from the national mainstream,” the manifesto said.

The major issues in the 24-point agenda for the region include introduction of the inner line permit system in Manipur on the lines of the Sikkim model and withdrawal of the Disturbed Area Act. Other issues include forming a dedicated force for safe passage on the highways, upgrade of the Jiribam sub-division of Manipur to a revenue district and measures to protect people from the Northeast from harassment in other cities of the country.