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ILP in Manipur: Backlash apprehended in Barak Valley

Silchar, August 5: The spectre of inner line regulation (ILR) in Manipur has gripped the Bengali speaking and other non Manipuri linguistic groups in Jiribam sub-division. A mass convention of non Manipuris held at Jirighat on Monday taking serious view of the ongoing atrocities on Bengali speaking and other groups has cautioned that if these are not stopped, it might lead to backlash in Barak Valley. Speakers after speakers condemned the Joint Committee on Inner Line Permit (JCILP) backed by some disguised extremists and cautioned not to continue with harassment of non Manipuris.
It has been observed that the police and civil administration of Jiribam have turned a Nelson’s eye to the emerging situation, stoking communal hatred and directly assaulting on the human and constitutional rights of the bonafide Indian citizens. The president of the convention Pradip Kumar Dey giving a historical background said that the Inner Line Regulation introduced by the British in 1873 is no more relevant today. The hidden intention as he said, is ethnic cleansing of the Bengali people living in Manipur for more than a century.
Continuing, Pradip Kumar Dey said Bengals are no less indigenous than the Manipurs of Manipur. From historical records, he made it clear that before the annexation of Cachar by the British in 1832, the tract between south Barak and Jiri rivers was not a part of Manipur. They were within Cachar under Dimasa Kingdom. The tract was inhabited by Dimasas and a few Bengali speaking Hindus and Muslims. In the face of Burmese aggression in the early part of 19th century, Manipuris from Imphal Valley took shelter in the Jiri Valley.
The British in apprehension of possible Burmese aggression in Silchar, gave Jiri Valley under the possession of the then King of Manipur. The valley was uninhabited for long 80 years and there were no Manipuri people. Rather, at the invitation of the Manipuri King Dhumbor Singha, the Bengali Hindu people as well as Bengali Muslims from Sylhet and Cachar came over to Jiri Valley and received land settlement. They established a number of villages in the Jiri Valley which included Kamranga, Kalinagar, Berabak, Latingkhal, Borobekra, Jakuradhar, Harinagar, Durganagar, Chotobekra, Makhabasti, Channighat and so many others. They have been tilling the land and offering revenue to the Manipuri King. Moreover, the names of the villages and rivers are all in Bengali. Dey cited more proofs to establish the settlement of Bengalis in Jiribam. In 1908 a Kali temple was built and a mosque in 1909, a Bengali medium lower primary school established in 1915. All these give credence to the fact that Bengali Hindus and Muslims are as much indigenous as the Manipuris.
Pradip Kumar Dey added to say the Bengali Hindus at the behest of the then Manipur King were initiated into Vaishnavism in 1939 who became part and parcel of the culture and heritage of the state. In spite of their assimilation, UNLF (United National Liberation Front) unleashed a reign of terror among the Bengali settlers and compelled hundreds of them to leave their home and land and flee to Cachar. The places left vacant were given to Manipuri people from Bangladesh by UNLF. This is recorded in the files of the intelligence agencies. Are they not foreigners to be deported, he asked?
Quite paradoxically, the very purport and objective of the Inner Line Regulation introduced by the British Government in Lushai Hills, NEFA and Naga areas is now being misconstrued, Pradip Kumar Dey pointed out. It is well recorded that for the last 300 years, various tribes who include Nagas, Kukis and Hmars have been migrating from Myanmar into Manipur. The wise and practical thing is to seal the entire Indo-Myanmar border and not the implementation of ILP.The mass convention after all the deliberations pointed out that what was justified in the British regime had its own reasoning and justification. In this Independent India, all Indians have to live in peace and harmony without harming the political and human rights of anyone. There was no question of discrimination. Thousands of Manipuris are living in Cachar who have no problem with their Bengali speaking and other groups here. If the outcry for ILP in Manipur is not withdrawn, it will have serious effect on the social and political atmosphere of Cachar. The mass convention in the light of these arguments has opposed any attempt to enact ILP or any other equivalent legislation in Manipur Legislative Assembly. The resolutions taken at the mass convention incorporated in a memorandum addressed to the Chief Minister of Manipur was submitted through the Deputy Commissioner of Cachar on Wednesday. (Source: SentinelAssam)

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