In News: On July 5, the 60-member Manipur Assembly resolved to implement the National Register of Citizens (NRC) and establish a State Population Commission (SPC).
- The approval to a couple of private member resolutions came after more than two dozen organisations, most of them tribal, demanded an Assam-like NRC to protect the indigenous people from a perceived demographic invasion by “non-local residents”.
Why is Manipur pushing for NRC?
- The northeastern States have been paranoid about “outsiders”, “foreigners” or “alien cultures” swamping out their numerically weaker indigenous communities.
- Manipur, home to three major ethnic groups, is no different.
- These ethnic groups are the non-tribal Meitei people, and the tribal Naga and Kuki-Zomi groups
- They claim that an NRC is necessary because the political crisis in neighbouring Myanmar, triggered by the military coup, has forced hundreds of people into the State from across its 398-km international border.
- A majority of those who fled or are fleeing belong to the Kuki-Chin communities, ethnically related to the Kuki-Zomi people in Manipur as well as the Mizos of Mizoram.
- In July, seven Manipur students’ organisations and 19 tribal and mixed groups submitted a memorandum to Prime Minister demanding the implementation of NRC and the establishment of an SPC to “check and balance the population growth”.
- The State Assembly bowed to these demands and decided to go for NRC and SPC.
Has Manipur had protective mechanisms?
- In December 2019, Manipur became the fourth northeastern State to be brought under the inner-line permit (ILP) system after Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram and Nagaland.
- But less than two years later, an umbrella organisation that spearheaded the ILP movement said the system was flawed and that Manipur needed a stronger and more effective mechanism for protecting indigenous populations.
What is the status of the NRC elsewhere in the northeast?
- Assam is the only State in the region that undertook an exercise to update the NRC of 1951 with March 24, 1971, as the cut-off date for citizenship of a person.
- The complete draft of the Assam NRC was published in August 2019, excluding 19.06 lakh out of 3.3 crore applicants, which the government in the State and some indigenous groups have refused to accept.
- Their petitions for re-verification of the NRC to weed out “Bangladeshis”, allegedly included erroneously or fraudulently, are pending before the Supreme Court, which had monitored the exercise.
- Nagaland attempted a similar exercise called RIIN (Register of Indigenous Inhabitants of Nagaland) in June 2019 to primarily sift the indigenous Nagas from the non-indigenous Nagas.
- The move, seen as directed particularly against the Nagas of adjoining Manipur, was shelved following opposition from several groups, including the extremist National Socialist Council of Nagalim or NSCN (I-M), the bulk of whose members are ironically from Manipur.
Must Read: National Register of Citizens (NRC)
Source: The Hindu