TODAY -

ST demand for Meiteis and ethnic clash not related: STDCM
Source: The Sangai Express

Imphal, May 13 2023: Breaking it silence after days, the STDCM has asserted that there is no connection whatsoever between the Scheduled Tribe (ST) demand of Meetei/Meitei and the ethnic conflict in the State and added that the unrest could have been triggered by opposition to the Government drive against poppy plantations, encroachment on protected and reserved forest by a section of people and demand to implement National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Manipur.

A press release issued by STDCM reiterated that the Meetei-Kuki clash has no connection with the demand of ST status by Meetei/ Meitei and the same could be validated in hill districts dominated by Nagas remaining peaceful.

It is worth asking whether a section of people exploited the emotion of Tribal Solidarity March of May 3 in some districts to show their opposition against destruction of poppy plantations and eviction of structures from reserved and protected forest areas.

STDCM asked.

As per several posts uploaded on social media the ethnic clash erupted after rallyists of Tribal Solidarity March attacked Meiteis in Kuki dominated districts such as Churachandpur, Kangpokpi and Tengnoupal (Moreh) and the latter retaliated, STDCM claimed.

STDCM also reminded that a mob vandalised an open gym in Churachandpur which was to be inaugurated by Chief Minister N Biren Singh days ahead of Tribal Solidarity March by hurling abusive languages against the Chief Minister.

Tension was already high in Churachandpur even before the ethnic clash which ensued after the Tribal Solidarity March, STDCM claimed.

Saying that the resultant impact of the Meitei-Kuki conflict can be removed only after a probe by an enquiry commission of the Supreme Court or other high level institutions, STDCM said that restoring normalcy only through relief and rehabilitation works would be extremely difficult.

Further stating that ST status demand by Meetei/ Meitei should not associated with the Meitei-Kuki conflict, STDCM asserted that granting ST status is indispensable to protect Meetei/ Meitei and the same has to be done as per the provisions of the Constitution.

No communities should put pressure on the Government to suppress the demand of Meetei/Meitei, STDCM said and added that Meeteis/ Meiteis or any other communities have to be enlisted in the ST list if they fulfil the criteria given by the Constitution.

Opposition to the procedures to add Meetei/Meitei in the ST list will unnecessarily invite more conflicts among the people, the Committee cautioned.

Refuting the narration that demand to grant ST status to Meetei/Meitei hurts the interest of already those identified as tribes and led to the conflict among the people, STDCM explained that their demand will never harm the interest of others.

The only vision of the STDCM is to live harmoniously with other communities residing in Manipur under similar status, it said and appealed to all concerned to not make any statement which can provoke any community.

It stated that May 3 will remain as one of the darkest days in the history of Manipur.

TheTribal Solidarity March rally ended peacefully in districts dominated by the Nagas, said STDCM and added that it was otherwise in Churachandpur, Kangpokpi and Tengnoupal.

The people who gathered at the rally in Churachandpur, Kangpokpi and Tengnoupal, including Kuki militants armed with automatic guns, however, started attacking Meetei villages and vandalised properties and assaulted the villagers and the same was uploaded on social media, STDCM claimed and alleged that the Meeteis/Meiteis also retaliated by attacking Kukis residing in Imphal East, Imphal West, Thoubal and Bishnupur.

The violence soon spread to other areas and became an ethnic clash, leading to loss of lives and damaged properties including vandalisation of religious establishments,, STDCM said and prayed for normalcy to return in Manipur.


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