On 31 August 2016, cries of “Ibobi down down” and “Fuck you Ibobi” and “Sakthu (Meitei for Fuck you) Ibobi” rang out as a large crowd marched through the town of Lamka in Manipur's Churachandpur district. They were protesting against the chief minister of the state, Okram Ibobi Singh for pushing through three bills under pressure from the Joint Committee on Inner Line Permit System, an umbrella organisation of 30 civil bodies in Manipur. The committee had lobbied for the the enforcement of an inner line permit system (an official document issued by the government to allow travel of an Indian citizen into a protected or restricted area) similar to those in force in Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram, and Nagaland to check the influx of non-Manipuris into the state.
On 31 August 2015, in a special session, the Manipur State Assembly passed three bills: the Protection of Manipur People Bill, the Manipur Land Revenue and Land Reforms Bill, and the Manipur Shops and Establishments Bill. All three bills—drafted to protect the indigenous people of the state—were passed unopposed by the tribal members of Legislative Assembly.
The protestors told me that their main objection was the new definition of “Manipur people” in the Protection of Manipur People Bill. The bill states that “Persons of Manipur [are those] whose name are in the National Register of Citizens 1951, Census Report 1951 and Village Directory of 1951.” This means that to be considered a “person of Manipur,” one would have to be listed in all three registers since 1951. The bills are seen as threatening the distinct identity of the hill areas that surround the Imphal Valley.