Imphal Feb 3,
Thousands of people from all walks of life today staged a protest rally demanding for the inclusion of Meetei/Meitei on the Schedule Tribe list. The massive rally which started from Thangmeiband THAU ground passing Kekrupat, Khurai, Nongmeibung and concluded at Hapta Kangjeibung, Palace Compound. The massive protest rally was organised by Schedule Tribe Demand Committee Manipur. Later a public meeting was also held there.
Speaking on the meeting, Manipur’s Titular king Leishemba Sanajaoba said that the Meeteis has been struggling for their survival. And the easiest way to survive for the time being is through the inclusion of Meetei in the ST list as the central government has already given its signal for the Meetei to be included in the ST list. He added that all the other movements like Manipur Peoples Bill, Inner Line Permit and protection against CAB needs an assent or request from the government but the ST demand movement which the central government had already signalled for inclusion. He further appealed the government to send recommendation to the central government and also requested other communities who hindered their demand as it is their only way to get constitutional safeguard which will help in the survival of the immerging Meeteis.
Senior journalist and former member of Manipur Human Rights Commission Yambem Laba spoke on the meeting telling that if the request to send recommendation doesn’t bother the government than they will grab it from their hands. He added that as a matter of fact if the government doesn’t send recommendations to include Meetei in the ST list before the code of conduct of the upcoming Lok Sabha election than they will boycott the political parties who are against their demand. He warned that the movement is a one which can haul up the government. He questioned the previous Congress led government why they haven’t send the recommendation and they also need to answer and faced the consequences. He said that if the present government think for the future of the people than they should called an emergency cabinet meeting and let the Meetei/Meitei be included in the schedule tribe.
General Secretary of STDCM K. Bhogendrajit recalled that they have been protesting democratically for the last seven years to include the Meetei/Meitei on the ST list leading to constitutional safeguard for the submerging Meetei. He added that both the previous government as well as the present government agreed with the idea that the Meetei community should be included in the ST list but none of them have even send recommendation to the central government. He further said that if there isn’t any constitutional safeguard for the Meetei than the fate of Jiribam will take place similarly in Imphal and other valley area too where a non indigenous contest in the election and even get elected. He also said that Meetei is the only indigenous tribe in the entire North East who isn’t included in the ST list. If the Meetei was included in the ST list than the land and both its culture and language can get protected, he added. He further warned that if the recommendation is not sent before the code of conduct of the upcoming election than series of intense agitation will be organised along with the people.
As requested by the STDC to stop all daily works during the rally hours and to support the rally, almost all business transaction were closed, the Ima keithels wore a deserted look and all shops in Imphal and surrounding areas were closed. Public transport weren’t functioning except for private vehicles.