TODAY -

ST categorisation : Not the job of judiciary :: Setting points in order
- The Sangai Express Editorial :: February 24, 2024 -



Let it be clear.

It s not the judiciary, including the High Court of Manipur or the Supreme Court of India which can direct the inclusion of Meiteis in the Scheduled Tribe list of the Constitution.

What the High Court of Manipur did was to direct the Government to reply to the information sought by the Union Ministry of Tribal Affairs on the socio-economic status of the Meiteis to consider whether the said community can be listed in the ST category or not.

It was in May 2013 that the Union Tribal Ministry had sought a report on the socio-economic conditions of the Meiteis so that the growing demand that the said community be enlisted in the ST category may be studied, and it was on the basis of this intimation from the Centre, that the High Court of Manipur had directed the State Government to send the report.

Send the sought report was its brief.

However as things have panned out, especially after the All Tribal Students’ Union, Manipur (ATSUM) backed by the so called Indigenous Tribal Leaders’ Forum organised the Tribal Solidarity March on May 3, 2023, a totally false, lop sided narrative was spun out to the effect that the Kukis had risen as one against the ST for Meiteis directive of the High Court of Manipur.

Even today with clever use of words and phrase, especially of the legal kind, attempts are being made to confuse the people with tales manufactured to the effect that the High Court of Manipur has issued yet another order neutralising the earlier report sought by the Union Tribal Affairs Ministry.

As a person from the legal profession and who happens to belong to the Congress, Bhupenda Meitei has put it, the order of the High Court of Manipur had to do only with the earlier directive that the State Government send the report sought by the Centre within four weeks.

The four weeks directive was issued sometime in March 2023 and a case had since then been pending with the Court, and the latest order had to do with deleting the time frame of 4 weeks set earlier.

In short it had nothing to do with the report sought by the Union Tribal Affairs Ministry from the State Government but only the time frame.

This much should be clear to all those who have been keeping a close and interested tab on the ST for Meiteis demand raised and championed by the Scheduled Tribe Demand Committee, Manipur, the World Meetei Council, Meetei/Meitei Tribe Union, Kang-leipak Kanba Lup and others.

The Sangai Express has been at forefront in backing the ST for Meiteis call and with good reasons.

That the Meiteis fulfil the criteria to be included in the ST category of the Constitution of India has been laid clear on more than one occasion and it would help for everyone, especially those who have been opposing the ST for Meiteis call to look beyond Manipur.

The addition of any new community in the ST group would mean tougher competition for those who are already in it and if the inclusion of the Meiteis in the ST category is to be opposed, then it should not be forgotten that it was only some time back that the Centre decided to include six communities of Assam in the ST list.

The pro-talk group of the ULFA has also come to the point that the survival of the Assamese rest on the six communities getting the ST tag and hence Constitutional protection.

Now if the demand that the Meiteis be included in the ST category is going to be opposed so strongly, then how about the inclusion of the six communities from Assam ?

Wouldn’t that throw the field of competition in the job market wider ?

This is where the argument that all need to look beyond Manipur should be understood.

Internal arrangements can always be made for the indigenous people, in so far as the job sector is concerned, just as Nagaland has its own categorisation of advanced and backward tribes.

No reason why Manipur cannot have its own version of valley and hill tribes and this is a point that may be studied minutely.

Opposing for the sake of opposing will not exactly help anyone.

A Constitutionally protected Meitei is what is behind the demand for ST for Meiteis.

Land grab, trying to usurp the rights of existing tribal groups, etc are all lies cooked up to suit their own narratives which have been sold to the world.



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