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Manipur bills: Fresh deadline, fresh tensions

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New Delhi: With agitators in the Manipur valley setting a fresh deadline for the state government to implement three controversial bills and the people of the hills continuing to vehemently oppose this, renewed tensions have loomed over the northeastern border state.

This week, the Joint Committee on Inner Line Permit System (JCILPS) that spearheaded a three-month-long agitation earlier this year in the Valley, set a fresh deadline of December 15 for the Manipur government to implement the three bills, failing which it threatened to resume its agitation from December 16.

The people of the Valley carried out the agitation demanding the enforcement of an inner line permit system (ILPS) similar to one that are in force in Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram, and Nagaland to check the influx of non-Manipuris into the state.

The JCILPS says that according to the 2011 census, Manipur’s population is 2.7 million. Of this, only 1.7 million are indigenous people while the rest are people who have their roots outside the state.

Ostensibly to safeguard the rights of the indigenous people, the state government, bowing to the pressure from the agitators, convened a special session of the assembly on August 31 and passed three controversial bills – the Protection of Manipur People Bill, the Manipur Land Revenue and Land Reforms Bill (Seventh Amendment) and the Manipur Shops and Establishments (Second Amendment) Bill.

The very day the bills were passed, protesters, mainly comprising tribal organisations, torched five houses belonging to Congress legislators. Among them were the dwellings of Health and Family Welfare Minister Phungzathang Tonsing and Lok Sabha member from Outer Manipur Thangso Baite in Churachandpur district.

The violence and resultant police action left at least nine people dead.

According to the tribes inhabiting the hills of Manipur, the three bills would directly undermine the existing safeguards for the tribal hill areas regarding land ownership and population influx, as the primary threat for the tribal people came not from outside the state but from the Meitei people of the Valley itself.

The protests of the tribal people spread to New Delhi, with the Manipur Tribal Forum, Delhi (MTFD) holding rallies and submitting memorandums to the president as also to union ministers, including those of home, tribal affairs and development of northeastern region (DoNER), seeking the centre’s intervention in resolving the issue.

The MTFD, along with the Joint Action Committee (JAC) against the three bills, the All Tribal Students Union Manipur (ATSUM) and women’s organisations, have said more than once that they did not trust the state government. They want the central government to convene a tripartite meeting and have demanded a separate administration for the hills.

With President Pranab Mukherjee not assenting to the three controversial bills and the centre yet to act on the demands of the tribal people, matters have reached a stalemate of sorts.

On Wednesday, however, Khomdram Ratan, convenor-in-charge of the JCILPS, held a press conference in Manipur capital Imphal at which he said that the indifferent attitude of the state government has led to the three bills rotting in the president’s hands.

“If the state government really wanted to save the indigenous people of the state, they should pressure the central government,” media reports quoted him as saying.

On Friday, an indefinite strike launched by the MTFD in the national capital demanding the withdrawal of the bills completed one month. Nine symbolic coffins laid out at the protest site at Jantar Mantar reveal the most tragic side of the whole saga – the bodies of the nine people killed in the protests in Churachandpur are still lying in a hospital morgue with the families refusing to claim them till the demands of the tribal people are met.

“The state government should have taken all stakeholders on board before passing the bills,” Mani Charenamei, former Lok Sabha MP from Outer Manipur constituency, told IANS at the protest site here.

Charenamei is of the opinion that the Imphal dispensation should be more sensitive to the demands of the tribal people.

“Now, if both the parties step up their movements, the state government will be compelled to somehow resolve the issue,” he said.

Addressing the protesters, the former MP said: “It has become very clear to the state government that the tribal people are not at all happy at the way they are being governed.”

Meanwhile, on Friday, an MTFD delegation met Satyendra Garg, the newly appointed joint secretary (northeast) in the home ministry, and apprised him of their demands.

“We were told that all memorandums and other documents that we had submitted have been sent to the judicial wing of the ministry,” J. Moivio, co-convenor of the MTFD, said.

“Action can also be taken only when the remarks from the judicial wing come in,” he added.

With December 15 close ahead, the question is: Who will blink first?

(Aroonim Bhuyan, IANS)

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Incidence of Hepatitis-B Virus Higher Among the Tribals in India

The Union Health Ministry said last year that in India, an estimated four crore people were suffering from Hepatitis B and some 1.2 crore were suffering from Hepatitis C

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Hepatitis C Blood Virus [HCV]. Photo Credit: michelsonmedical.org

By Sujit Chakraborty

The incidence of the Hepatitis-B virus is higher among the tribals, specially the Jarawas of the Andaman Islands and the Chakmas in Arunachal Pradesh, experts said.

“Hepatitis-B is still an important cause of chronic liver disease. The prevalence of the infection in higher among the tribals,” said Pradip Bhowmik, one of the country’s most renowned hepatologists and liver expert.

“Around 65 per cent of the Jarawa tribals and 21 per cent tribals in Arunachal Pradesh are affected by the virus. Except Central India, 3 to 6 per cent tribals in most parts of India are also affected.”

The Jarawas is one of the endangered tribes inhabiting the Andaman Islands and any interaction with them is prohibited by law.

“In Arunachal, the Chakma tribe has the highest percentage of the infection. More than 11 per cent of the population is affected which is a matter of concern,” Bhowmik told IANS.

On the eve of the two-day international scientific conference on liver disease, “Livercon V”, beginning on Saturday, Bhowmik said that earlier Hepatitis-C was about 0.1 per cent among voluntary blood donors.

A recent study shows that about 20 per cent of Hepatitis-C cases is transmission through injecting drugs.

“It was found earlier that Hepatitis-C was the disease of old age but new data shows that more than 30 per cent of Hepatitis-C patients are below 30 years of age and most of them have a habit of injecting drugs.”

Bhowmik said that availability of better diagnostic facilities in India was now making it possible to diagnose liver disease early leading to a reduction in complications.

Injection and medicines
Hepatitis A and E are the commonly transmitted hepatotropic viruses transmitted due to poor hygiene, contaminated food and drinking water, poor sanitation. Pixabay

“Awareness development among the health care providers is of paramount importance for diagnosis, treatment and prevention of liver diseases.”

Another hepatology expert Ajit Chowdhury said: “Alcoholic liver diseases were increasing in the country. But a chronic liver disease due to a fatty liver is gradually becoming a threat to the future generation and needs immediate intervention. Diabetes, obesity and metabolic syndrome are leading to chronic liver disease mostly.

“All these chronic liver diseases lead to cirrhosis and liver cancer.”

Across the world, the prevalence of liver disease is increasing and mortality rates were also rising steadily.

Chowdhury said that liver transplantation has revolutionized treatment for liver diseases and India has many state-of-the-art hospitals to provide the best care.

Gradually the treatment is also becoming cost effective for the common people.

According to Bhowmik, the Indian government has targeted to make India hepatitis free by 2030.

Also Read- Punjab Bans Online Delivery of Food without Hygiene Rating

The World Health Organization has estimated that viral hepatitis caused 1.34 million deaths globally in 2015, a number comparable to deaths due to tuberculosis worldwide.

The Union Health Ministry said last year that in India, an estimated four crore people were suffering from Hepatitis B and some 1.2 crore were suffering from Hepatitis C. (IANS)