Granting minority status to Meitei/Meetei will solve the present imbroglio on ST demand

Written By: / Editorial / Saturday, 13 February 2021 17:23

Apprehensions about the fate of the Manipuri Meitei/Meetei people has been in existence for quite a long time and it took no time for some of the people including renowned journalist cum human rights activist, Yambem Laba among others to demand ST status for the Meitei/Meetei community. This demand has met strong reactions from hill people on the fear that their reservation benefits may be useless if Meitei/Meetei community is included in the ST list. The demand for inclusion of Meitei/Meetei to ST list has also been strongly opposed by many, leaving aside those who espouse the restoration of the freedom of Manipur.

Those demanding Meitei/Meetei status and those opposing the demand have little difference if we try looking from their respective perspectives. Both wanted full proof protection of the Meitei/Meetei community even though their strategies are different.

This has been a complicated issue in the state and perhaps all the persons who had served as Chief Ministers of Manipur in the past had not been able to take a stand on whose side they favour. It is a fact that to take sides with those demanding ST status will have so many oppositions both from sections of Meitei/Meetei community who wanted to keep Manipur’s historical and political perspectives intact and from the ST community of Manipur.

During the ongoing State Assembly session, Chief Minister N. Biren Singh had stated in the august house about the deliberate needs for protection of the Meitei/Meetei as Hill brethren have already been under protection by virtue of Article 371C of the Indian constitution and those in the valley have also been protected by the Minority act. This statement of the Chief Minister has angered the Scheduled Tribe Demand Committee of the state who denounced the CM’s reply as irresponsible.

At first, people across the state including this newspaper sensed troublesome in the N. Biren Singh led administration when he had earlier stated that he will look into the demand for inclusion of the Meitei/Meetei in Scheduled Tribe list. One fact which remains quite clear to all including those demanding ST status and those opposing it is that the Meitei/Meetei community is in need of some protective mechanisms. Conferring ST status to Meitei/Meetei is not the ultimate solution as it is not the taste of every Meitei/Meetei in the state. This perhaps should have been taken care of by N. Biren Singh when he gave reply to the ST demand issue. 

In the meantime, a new development has entered the scene. The Supreme Court has asked the Central Government to file a reply to the request to the High Court to transfer the pending petitions seeking grant of minority status in 9 states including Manipur to the High Court. The petition has requested to transfer all the cases related to it to the Supreme Court. The SC also gives 4 weeks to the center to grant minority status to Hindus in the said 9 states.

Everyone knows that Meetei/Meitei community in the state have been following the Hindu religion for many centuries. If the Meitei/ Meetei following the Hindu religion have been granted minority status there should not be any differences of opinion because this is one opportunity to get constitutional safeguard for theMeitei/Meetei community following Hindu religion.

Imphal Times hope that the government of Manipur will certainly push up this matter as it is the right time for all of us.

About the Author

Rinku Khumukcham

Rinku Khumukcham

Rinku Khumukcham, Editor of Imphal Times has more than 15+ years in the field of Journalism. A seasoned editor, was a former editor of ISTV News. He resides in Keishamthong Elangbam Leikai, with his wife and parents. Rinku can be contacted at [email protected] 

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