TODAY -

Opposing stand on ST demand : Need to reach out to all
- The Sangai Express Editorial :: March 19 2019 -



The debate is on. Two directly opposing viewpoints and there does not seem to be a meeting point, with either side sticking to their point of view.

And so it is that while the Scheduled Tribe Demand Committee, Manipur appears bent on pursuing with the demand that the State Government put forward the recommendation that the Meiteis be included in the ST list of the Constitution of India, the All Tribal Studentsí Union, Manipur sees no reason why the Meiteis should be included in the ST list.

Remains to be seen which way the debate will proceed but it is more than clear that the ST divide runs deep.

This is a point which must have become clear to the STDCM and it remains to be seen how it tries to take everyone along with the idea that the Meiteis be included in the ST list.

Not only the tribal organisations but STDCM will also need to take the Meiteis who are opposed to their stand along with them.

It is amongst the different stand that the State Government will one day have to take a stand and it will not be an easy task.

If what the Chief Minister said on the floor of the Assembly some time back is any indication, then how does the State Government hope to take all along with the demand of the STDCM.

Can the STDCM and the State Government work together and jointly reach out to the others who do not see eye to eye with the demand being raised ?

Reaching out, this is the need of the hour or else Manipur can expect to see more stormy days ahead.

What however needs to be kept in mind is the plain and simple fact that it is not STDCM, ATSUM or anyone which will decide the ultimate outcome but the Government of India.

This is best exemplified by the fact that after the Centre decided to give ST status to six communities in Assam recently, tribal groups of Assam raised their voice of opposition against the step of the Centre.

This was the last heard of in Assam, but there is no guarantee that the same script will unfold here.

Whether the State Government puts forward the recommendation or not, whether the Centre agrees to the ST demand or not, the divide that the ST demand spawns is most likely to continue.

In the coming days one may expect the debate to get more shrill and if care is not taken by either side, it may well spill over the debate and somewhat take on a confrontationist stand.

This what is unwanted and this is a fact that should be acknowledged by either side.

It also stands that one of the main reasons for the ST demand is Constitutional protection of land in the valley which constitutes just a tiny fraction of the total geographical area of the State.

It is the apprehension of being swamped by non-locals, which the STDCM has pointed out on more than one occasion.

On the other hand, ATSUM and other tribal bodies have pointed out that an Act to restrict the entry of non-locals should be more than enough towards this.

Both sides have their merits but it would be best for either side to reach out to each other and see if an understanding may be reached.

The focus should be Manipur and the indigenous people and not merely division such as ST, SC and general category.



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