Imphal, Jan 28:
The World Meitei Council (WMC) has urged Chief Minister N Biren Singh to consider the fate of the 1.5 million Meetei people of Manipur, who are confined to only 5 to 6 percent of the total area.
A statement explained that the state’s demography has undergone significant changes in recent decades. Meetei, who constituted about 60 percent of Manipur’s population according to the 1971 census, have now decreased to around 44 percent in the 2011 census. The fact is that the migrant population has surpassed the Naga indigenous community and now has the second largest population in the state. The influx of these illegal migrants continues. Furthermore, delimitation of assembly and parliamentary constituencies in Manipur and the rest of the country will be conducted in 2026. Delimitation means more people and more seats. The Meetei, who are at the receiving end of this, will be increasingly exposed, which could threaten their identity in the next two to three decades.
The statement emphasized that this situation calls for the Meetei people to do everything in their power to protect their identity by obtaining constitutional protection under the Scheduled Tribe provision.
“WMC has conducted thorough research on the eligibility for inclusion in the list of Scheduled Tribes according to the existing laws. The findings of the research have unequivocally established that the Meetei meet all the criteria for ST status. Now, the Meetei people have very little time, as delimitation will take place in 2026. If delimitation occurs without considering the Meetei’s claim, their identity will become vulnerable, and the integrity of Manipur will be seriously challenged. This is a question of Now or Never,” said the WMC. The statement further added that Chief Minister N Biren Singh should send the two reports on (1) Meetei’s ethnography and (2) Meetei’s latest socio-economic status to the center before the parliamentary elections.