People or Adivasis of the country and constitute about 8% of the total population”. No community, individual or organization has right to protest or object to the demand for ST status by Meetei since ST Status For Constitutional Safeguard Of Meetei And Imphal Valley – By Dr. Thangjam Ranjit
The demand for inclusion of indigenous Meetei community in the indigenous or ST. list of the country is the constitutional right of Meetei in the country. Since Meetei is an important indigenous community of the state, it has every right to include its name in the ST list of the country as it has been clearly stated by Supreme Court, the highest court of the country on 5th Jan, 2011, in one of its land mark judgments. It says “the present Scheduled Tribes are the descendants of the Original/Indigenous the demand is made under Article 342(1) of the India constitution. Granting of ST status to a community lies with the Govt. of India not to anybody.,
The statements or slogans issued by ATSUM, KSO, UPPCM and others against the inclusion of Meetei in the ST list of the country are all fabricated and concocted ones. The slogans like “We oppose tooth and nail all the agenda of STDCM”, “Govt. of Manipur should proceed with caution”, “Meetei ST demand will vitiate hill valley relation”, “Meetei demand for ST status to grab land and rights of tribals”, “Meetei do not fulfill the criteria for ST Status”, “Inclusion of Meeteilon in the 8th Scheduled of India constitution is a sign of civilization, hence cannot be in the ST list “, “To take advantage of the special provisions reserved to the tribals in education, employment”, “Granting of ST status to Meetei will trigger serious social uprising, etc., etc., are thetorics of few pseudo intellectuals, pseudo leaders communal minded, short sighted people, who have distaste for Meetei to the core, without any rhyme or reason. These people, both in the hills and valley, are those who cannot came out openly to express their views but clandestinely through, newspapers only. People should not believe in them rather should boycott them since their slogan will create misunderstandings among the different communities and may create unnecessary social problems and chaos, at a time when the state is passing through a myriads of problem.
Time and again, in the past few years, the basic demands of ST status by Meetei has been stated through medi—print and electronic, widely and clearly. They are the people who say “Adu Oirabasu” and therefore, there is no need of educating them. It may be noted that more than 99% Meetei community whole heartedly support this demand now, unlike before.
When Meetei tribe is included in the ST list, present reservation policy in the state will remain unchanged as allocation of quotas within quota is state subject, and is guaranteed by Article 16 (4) of the Indian constitution. When highlanders are leaving the hills and settling in the fertile Imphal valley in colonies, vengs, khuls, etc. How one will expect Meetei to leave fertile valley and settled in a place where life is very hard to live in khuls and Leikais. Simply the slogans of grabbing land and quota of our brethren in the hills are baseless, unfounded, misleading and obsessed with communal tone and are nothing but to sow seeds of disharmony, disunity and hatred among the different communities living in harmony since time immemorial.
It is the leadership of ATSUM, KSO and other organizations not the Govt. that should go cautiously to avoid conflagration from a single spark. Government of Manipur is duty bound to proceed with the provisions of the Indian constitution for its people. In this regard leaders of the churches, civil societies, village Chiefs, Hohos, intellectuals and public leaders as well as intellectuals should educate leaders of ATSUM, KSO and other organizations which stand against the ST status to Meetei and should advise them to desist from playing fires, otherwise a serious social tension and conflagration may engulf the state. If these unwanted incidents happen, the responsibility of which will go to ATSUM, KSO & others.
The demand for ST tag by Meetei community of the state is fundamentally banked on the following hard realities.
Secondly, to save the fertile lands and wetlands in the valley which are producing maximum food grains, vegetables, fishes, etc. for the people, both in the valley and hills, from being owned by more skilled, hardworking, strong, advanced and united non-indigenous people, who are coming in large numbers in the state in the form Tsunami.
Thirdly, to foster a harmonious, peaceful, united and progressive Manipuri society based on ethnic equality (as ST) among the indigenous communities of consanguineous relation who have been living together since time immemorial.
Fourthly, to enable Meetei community, like other indigenous people in the state, to compete confidently well with other communities of India on equal social status (i.e. as Scheduled tribe) in the field of education, service sectors of Central Govt. etc, to earn more laurels, medals, positions, awards, privileges, etc, for better economic, social, educational, cultural and political status of Meetei in particular and Manipur in general, by discarding and discontinuing decades long practice of competing with highly advanced educated and organized communities wrongly in General Category/OBC of other states in the country.
In fine, the demand for restoration of ST status is to save Meetei from being extinct in its own habitat and to bring harmony, progress and peace among the indigenous people in the state. Hence, the indigenous people in the state should see this great historic event of Meetei’s returning to its original ST status is to be to be in equal footing with other ethnic tribes as “Home Coming” and should extent warm and hearty welcome by all the indigenous people of the state, without any reservation. Here, we all need to remember the very well known maxims – “Blood is thicker than water” and “Birds of the same feathers flock together” at least in the context of present Manipur.
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.