TODAY -

ST status on Meiteis ATSUM urges PM to seek views of all
Source: The Sangai Express

Imphal, July 26 2013 : Against the backdrop of the reported audience given to the ST Demand Committee, Manipur Valley (STDCMV) by the Prime Minister on July 10 this year, the All Tribal Students' Union, Manipur (ATSUM) has urged Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh to seek the views and opinions of the stakeholders before initiating any steps on the demand for inclusion of the Meiteis in the Scheduled Tribe list.

Airing displeasure over the demand of ST status for the Meiteis under the aegis of STDCMV, the ATSUM has today submitted a memorandum to the Prime Minister.

The ATSUM memo signed by its general secretary, Marahang Ngiimai reminded that the tribals who for decades feel unsecured and neglected by the majority community of Manipur would be compelled to take extreme steps if their interest and rights are being overlooked by the authority concerned.

"While we understand that the demand raised by the STDCMV is an issue related with the Meiteis/Manipuri community of Manipur, we are compelled to raise a few relevant issues before this demand is considered either in the State or Central Govt level," the ATSUM memo said.

Wondering if the Meitei brothers are really trying to assert their true identity by demanding ST status, the tribal apex student's body asked if it is so why the demand should not be inclusive of all the Meiteis of not just Manipur valley but also those of Assam, Tripura and elsewhere without being grouped into General, OBC, SC or ST.

Pointing out that tribals of Manipur have been airing their displeasure over the Govt of Manipur for being valley centric, the ATSUM highlighted to the PM that the hills have been neglected for the past more than sixty years and the piecemeal development undertaken in the hills are just eyewash and excuses.

It further highlighted that the reservation policy followed by the State is also not proportionate with the tribal population of the State.

The tribal population of the State has crossed 37 percent while the percentage of State Govt employees does not reach even 21 percent, it posited while adding it is an absurd injustice.

The ATSUM memo further mentioned that tribals have been demanding greater autonomy of the existing ADC by extending the Sixth Schedule Provisions of the Constitution to them.

However, the rightful demand is being put in cold storage on the ground that extension of the provision would lead to more demands and finally a full-fledged State by the tribals of the State.

Besides, Manipuri, the official language of the State is already listed in the 8th Schedule of the Indian Constitution in the early 1990s.The Meiteis who used the language as their mother tongue from time immemorial and who are included in the General Category are given the benefit of writing exams conducted by UPSC in their own language.

"We now suspect that the prime motive of demanding ST status for the Meiteis of Manipur valley is to do more with political opportunities than socio-economic and educational benefits for the community," it said.

Being convinced that the demand for ST status by the STDCMV is with the tacit support and approval of the major NGOs of the community and even from the Government and Political level, ATSUM memo urged the PM to intervene so that trust, peace and development would reign instead of misunderstanding, disunity and chaos due to the STDCMV 'unethical and unreasonable' demand.


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