TODAY -

Sit-ins demanding inclusion in ST list : Taking everyone along
- The Sangai Express Editorial :: September 20, 2022 -



The important question is, how successful has the Scheduled Tribe Demand Committee, Manipur (STDCM) and the World Meetei Council (WMC) been in taking the people along with their stand that the Meeteis/Meiteis be included in the Scheduled Tribe category of the Constitution of India ?

This question is important in the face of the series of sit-in-protests organised by the STDCM in different parts of the valley districts in the last few days.

That this demand failed to move any political party, whether regional or National, in the run up to the Assembly elections held in the earlier part of this year needs no elaboration as no political party or candidate deemed it fit to include this agenda in their campaigns or when they went to the people seeking their vote.

This is where it becomes important for the STDCM and the WMC to pool in their thoughts and study whether they have been able to fire the imagination of the people or not.

If yes then well and good and the natural question that follows is, what steps have they got in their mind to take all the political parties along with their stand ?

If not then what steps have been taken up or are being planned to be taken up to fire the imagination of the people and give more punch to the demand ?

Questions which the think tank of the STDCM and the WMC should have started working their minds on.

It stands that perhaps the Meeteis/Meiteis are only among the few group of people in the North East which has so far not enjoyed any Constitutional protection, protections that are needed in the face of the rapidly changing demographic profile of the land and the resultant pressure on scarce resources, particularly on land.

Moreover it stands that the identity of the Meeteis/Meiteis, like any of the smaller communities in the region and in the rest of the country, are closely linked with their land.

Apart from being Scheduled Tribes, with Constitutional protection on their land and customary laws, the Nagas probably will have their own Constitution albeit incorporated in the Constitution of India, which means that their interests will further be protected.

The tripartite talk with the SoO groups is also proceeding, which can mean that the interests and identity of the Kuki-Chin group will be further boosted.

The ST demand raised by STDCM and WMC should be seen against this reality.

No doubt there are challenges ahead and it will take more than convincing the State Government to submit the needed report to the Centre to pitch fork the Meeteis/Meiteis in the ST list of the Constitution of India.

Just how successful is the ST campaign in taking every section of the people, more particularly amongst the Meeteis/Meiteis can have a definitive impact on how the ST demand is taken not only by the State Government but also by New Delhi.

This is where the STDCM and the WMC will need to explore all possible avenues to give more thrust to the demand they have raised.

The first obviously is to try and ensure more participation from amongst the people and if the STDCM and the WMC are satisfied with the response from the people, then fine and good.

A look at the turn out during the series of sit-in protests organised by STDCM in the last couple of days should give an indication on how much the campaign has been able to fire the imagination of the people.

The need is to take a long, hard and objective look at the response so far and study if there are any loopholes that can be plugged.

Asking for ST status after volunteering to be counted as non-tribals earlier is not going to be any cake walk and this is where STDCM and WMC will need serious introspection, study the ground reality and feel and understand the pulse of the people.



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