Apropos “A rebuttal to Imprudence of ATSUM” appeared in the media yesterday, and I presume — issued by ATSUM, I am to say that I made two points to which ATSUM takes strong exception.
Now what I have said was, one, that the Meiteis are no less tribal than any of the tribals listed in the schedule tribe lists of the fifth schedule of the Indian constitution from anthropological angle.
Two, that it is absurd to say that if the Meeteis are included in the schedule tribe list of the constitution it would “bring more inequality in the state in all respects”
I have stated that the demand of the Schedule Tribe Demand Committee Manipur (STDCM) to include the Meiteis in the Schedule Tribe lists of the Constitution is to protect the Meetei from the threat of extinction in the face of unchecked influx of migrants into this beautiful Manipur valley of seven hundred square miles, which is the home to all sections of the Manipuri society —— Kuki, Meitei, Naga, Pangal and the rest of the people.
I have raised the question to the Government of India writing to the Prime Minister while enclosing a copy of my letter to which ATSUM take strong exception. I have drawn the attention of the Honourable Prime Minister as to what has the Government of India done to rectify the wrongs done to the Meeteis by the Indian Constitution. I have said that the unscheduled Meitei tribes should be given its rightful place in this great country of 1.3 billion plus people where their existence is not threatened.
I have also pointed out that the rationale for the demand to enlist the Meeteis in the fifth schedule of the Indian constitution is genuine and the state government too, must do its part without delay.
In my writing I have not criticized any community or any group of people or any organization including ATSUM. So why should ATSUM have any grudge against my statement.
Yes, ATSUM might have been offended when I call their statement — “it (ATSUM) will fight to the end against the inclusion of the Meiteis in ST list” —— stupid. But frankly, tell me how should I call your statement — hatred, communal venom, a war cry against the Meiteis — you choose.
My dear ATSUM friends you may be smart but you are students; you are not an army to fight a battle. Do not allow yourself to be carried away by sentiment and hatred because that will take you nowhere.
Even if you are hostile to the Meitei heaping all the blames for all the ills on the Meeiteis — Meitei Manipur history, Meeitei government, Meitei hegemony, Meeitei exploiting the hill people — these are uninformed, unknowledgeable and ill-conceived world view.
True, in every community there are unprincipled and ignoble people who by their sheer position in power do more disservice than anything. But you cannot curse a community for those obnoxious and unscrupulous crooks.
Lastly as an elder, I would like to appeal to you to be civil in your approach in this regard because it involves the future of your fraternal community, even when your own future is safe and secured.
I believe we can talk; have meaningful dialogues, debates and discussions. This is the way the world moves forward.