By: Nabashyam Heigrujam
In my last writing regarding STDCM demand to include the Meitei tribe in the schedule lists of the fifth schedule of the Indian constitution and the subsequent reaction coming against it especially from ATSUM, I have proposed to ATSUM that if they have genuine issues with STDCM then dialogue would be the only way to solution.
However ATSUM have come out again bugling their patriotism and claiming that they are “an assortment of academics, intellectuals and prominent youth leaders who take decisions after thorough deliberations and wide consultations pertaining to the issues at hand”, and this time with a rider —— a threat of “civil war”.
There is an old saying “Nahaana Maiba Saaraga Mung Thatli” — if young inexperienced men act as doctors then their treatment would kill the patients.
All of us have experienced our youth days. Youth indeed, is the most beautiful phase of life. In this period our body is strongest and most beautiful. It is full of energy and courage. Our spirit in this phase of life knows no bound. In our youthful dreams we move the Himalayas, drain the oceans, conquer the sky and we are Super Heroes.
I too, like any of us have had the spirit to move the mountains and sweep the Ganga. That is the basic reason why every combat soldiers are discharged from service after putting them into service for 10-15 years. However the soldiers are always led by cool experienced commanders.
Now, the worries of ATSUM, as they have spelt out is that, if the Meeteis are included in the list of scheduled tribe “90% of the jobs will definitely belong to the valley people. Not to forget the fact that the representation of the tribals in technical, medical and technological fields shall be almost nil.”
However despite their claim that they are an assortment of youth leaders and experts they are it seems, yet to figure out as to how they should deal if the Meiteis are listed in the schedule list and hence the threat. Here my suggestion is simple —— we can go on with the present reservation policy or whatever policy we agree to by simply changing the present nomenclature —— from Scheduled tribe and General to Hill tribe and valley tribe and the Assembly is the authority to make laws in this regard and there will be no problem. This will save the interests of the hill tribe.
Regarding saturation of the valley and the suspicion that the Meiteis tribe would come on the hill to grab the land. I remember, Major Shaiza, younger brother of former chief minister Y. Shaiza, once told me, way back in 1989/90 during a casual discussion, “Nakhoi Meiteina Chingda Tage Haidi Laona, Lum Lemna pibige, nakhoina Leiningdabadagi Kari Touni; Eikhoina Thingbadi Mayaangbu Thingbane Nakhoibu Natte” —— if you (Meitei) want to settle in the Hill, you are welcome I will give you land for free, but what can I do if you don’t want to come. Our opposition is to the Mayaangs, not to you (Meitei). Being an experienced leader Major Shaiza knew the minds of the Meetei, unlike the youth leaders of ATSUM and etc. and therefore he wasn’t much worried about the land grabbing theory.
Creating panic in the minds of the public by telling them that valley people would forcibly grab their land through legislative or executive means is an insult to the intelligence of the hill people. I truly believe our hill brothers would understand what ATSUM are upto. Such pathetic figment of imagination would not help anyone including the crusaders.
If ATSUM is genuinely concerned for the interests of the hill people, they should enlighten the public that nobody or no community can grab their land or their property or anything they own either by law or by executive orders. If you do this much, there would be no confusion in the minds of the public and as such the innocent public can live peacefully doing their business and the youths and students to pursue their career undisturbed.
It is also a fact that there are black sheeps in every community who do anything to get their immediate benefits that are counterproductive. MU’s narrative (Manipur University) is one such act committed by some academic idiots. But such people are plenty in all community including hill community and one can cite innumerable examples. But that is not my intention.
Therefore if ATSUM wants to help and serve the people whom you claim you represent, then keep your personal vendettas to yourselves and work hard to build trust and understanding among all the communities, especially among Kuki, Meitei and Naga, because this is the only way for all of us to live happily together on this beautiful planet.
We may also need to understand that Meitei’s asking for ST status is to get a level playing field on the national level and be able to protect the valley which is the home to all of us and not the land grabbing.
To conclude let me state that with the opening to the ASEAN countries; today we are living in a period where the prospect for progress is enormous. Therefore shouldn’t we ask ourselves what would hatred bring us? Don’t we deserve to have our moments of quiet introspection, and see if compromises, whenever necessary would make our future better? I believe the choice lying before us is crystal clear.
******Views expressed in the article are author’s personal.