This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Bikash K Bhattacharya. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

As Manipur Protests Entry Of ‘Outsiders’, Locals Suffer Without Basic Amenities

More from Bikash K Bhattacharya

By Bikash K Bhattacharya:

As fresh violence erupted between two groups over the issue of Inner Line Permit (ILP) on 18th August, in Chandel district of Manipur and protests mounted across the state, life has come to a standstill except in the old secretariat road in Imphal where the ‘more important‘ government offices are located.

For past few months Manipur has been wrangling with popular protests for implementing the Inner Line Permit system which is presently operative in three north-eastern states: Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh and Mizoram. Earlier this week, on 17 August five students on indefinite hunger strike demanding ILP in the state were arrested, and admitted into the Regional Institute of Medical Sciences in Imphal. On July 8, a similar mass protest—which was a materialization of the dormant anxieties of the native populace regarding the unabated influx of ‘outsiders’ to the state—witnessed the death of a XI standard student Sapam Robinhood which subsequently triggered civil unrest across the state.

Image Credit: Manipur-da Inner Line Permit
Image Credit: Manipur-da Inner Line Permit

In sum, much vitriol has been spilled in recent times over this issue; the atmosphere is complex and vitiated, and indications suggest that there is still more to come, rendering civil life into an impasse.

The 2011 Census stated that there were 7.5 lakh Meiteis, 6.7 lakh Tribals, and 7.4 lakh non-Manipuris in the state. When Scheduled Castes were excluded, it was found that there are 13,000 more non-Manipuris than Meiteis. Therefore, it is quite natural that the public discourse in Manipur has been dominated by this sole issue despite a devastating flood in the recent memory, and the indigenous communities’ fear of becoming a ‘minority‘ both demographically and culturally is all-pervasive, of course with valid reasons. As public pressure mounted, the Congress-led Manipur government promised to draft an Inner Line Permit Bill within one month though Congress is officially opposed to it. Native communities in the state, irrespective of whether in the valley or in the hills, are anxiously awaiting the result with the hope that the bill will serve its interests.

The Manipur Assembly had introduced the Manipur Regulation of Visitors, Tenants and Migrant Workers Bill earlier this year aiming to regulate the entry of visitors and migrant workers but it was withdrawn on July 15 because the Joint Committee on Inner Line Permit System (JCILPS), which is spearheading the movement demanding implementation of the ILP, accused that it protected immigrants more than native Manipuris.

The foremost argument against the ILPS within the state is that it is an attempt by the state’s dominant community, the Meiteis, to retain their pre-eminence in the power hierarchy. However this is not convincing. The idea of the Meiteis themselves being threatened and marginalised is very real as exhibited by the census data.

What is at stake?

There seems to be a sense of suspicion among the hill tribes that the government of Manipur is trying to avert the implementation of the Sixth Schedule by prioritising the demand for ILPS. It is notable that the valley populace has been largely silent on, if not opposed to, the issue of implementing Sixth Schedule in the hills, and this has created an atmosphere of distrust. Any constructive dialogue between the hills leaders and valley leaders was not visible in recent past. What has worsened the situation is that some members of the intelligentsia are suspicious that the demand for ILPS has the twin objective of lending more strength and legitimacy to the Meiteis’ demand for Scheduled Tribe status. Another unresolved question that has created confusion is whether the Kukis are natives of Manipur.

Hence trust is presently at stake among the Manipuris. Moreover, while the aim of the mass movement spearheaded by JCILPS is to ensure an effective law for regulating or controlling migration to the state, the shibboleth accompanying it is Inner Line Permit (ILP). This shows a somewhat lack of clarity about the objective of the movement. It must not be forgotten that what has come to be known as ILP owes its origin to a colonial law, the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation Act, 1873, and ILP cannot easily dissociate itself of the colonial spatial and cultural imageries, and the savagery/civilization distinction that was at play in its history. Lack of clarity in terms of objective in the movement on a sensitive issue like migration could under-gird a xenophobic attitude among the natives.

Who are the sufferers?

I am the sole bread-earner of my family. This is for the third day I haven’t been able to do business. No one is in the street“, S Maibam, a vegetable vendor in Imphal says bleakly on Thursday, alluding to the woes suffered by the commoners like him as the new trend of ‘flash-bandhs‘ is setting in, across the valley.

The recent flood and subsequent landslides have still kept parts of Chandel and Thoubal districts inaccessible from the valley. A youth from Laimatol hills area, of Chandel district, informs this scribe over phone that they are still trying to cope with the damages done by the flood. Now the protests and strikes in valley have added to their woes by cutting access to medical facilities and access to livelihoods, since most of the community members work as daily wage labourers in the valley.

With recent reports of 17 more volunteers from Thangmei-band United Club coming forward to carry on the stir, it seems lives of civilians, most of who are already ravished by flood and deprived of basic amenities, will be caught in a quagmire of ‘street politics’ for an indefinite period.

Ironically, denial of the right to livelihoods is itself a stain on democracy. All stakeholders to the ILPS issue, including the governments must understand this, and settle scores only after ensuring this.

You must be to comment.

More from Bikash K Bhattacharya

Similar Posts

By IMPRI Impact and Policy Research Institute

By IMPRI Impact and Policy Research Institute

By IMPRI Impact and Policy Research Institute

Wondering what to write about?

Here are some topics to get you started

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below