TODAY -

Meetei ST Status: An artificial Controversy

Hijam Rajen *



The very recent report of the own choice of Scheduled Tribe (ST) status for the Meetei community is indeed an unfortunate development for Manipur. The issue has been a subject of controversy, with Mr. Ngaram Shimray's report in Sangai Express adding fuel to the fire. While the matter is currently under jurisdiction of Manipur High Court, the implications of this decision are far-reaching and have sparked a wide range of reactions and concerns.

The exclusion of Meetei ST status by own choice has left many in the community disheartened. The report by Kaka Kelkar, which is meant to assess the community's eligibility for ST status, has not provided a conclusive solution to this long-standing issue. This has raised questions about the transparency and fairness of the process.

In light of this, it is crucial to remember that the Meetei people have been seeking ST status for quite some time. This demand is not merely a matter of political or administrative convenience but holds deep socio-cultural significance.

The survival and protection of the Meetei community significantly depend on their inclusion in the ST category. Therefore, the recent events, including the trigger of May 3rd, should not deter the Meetei community's pursuit of their rightful status.

Chief Minister of Manipur, Nongthombam Biren, must recognize the gravity of the situation. His authority is derived from the votes of the people of Manipur, and he should prioritize their interests and welfare above all else. If the Chief Minister does not take this matter seriously, he risks alienating a substantial part of his constituency.

The Meetei community's demands are not just for political posturing; they are the cornerstone of their cultural and social identity. If the government continues to ignore their plea, the people of Manipur might become disillusioned and take drastic steps. Mr. N Biren must respect the sentiment of the people.

It is imperative to note that the Meetei community's safety and well-being are intrinsically linked to their ST status. Being recognized as a Scheduled Tribe is not merely a matter of nomenclature but also a means to ensure their rights, resources, and representation are protected and promoted.

In this challenging time, Meetei leaders must stand united and resolute. It is crucial that they understand that it is the Meetei people who will decide their political fate, not Delhi. The politicians in power must prioritize the needs and aspirations of their constituents over the political calculations of the central government.

In this regard, they could take a leaf out of the book of their counterparts in Mizoram, where the Chief Minister has shown exemplary leadership by placing the interests of his people above all else.

The uphold of Meetei ST status is indeed a setback, but it should not deter the community from continuing their struggle. The fight for their rights and recognition is essential not only for the Meetei people but also for preserving the cultural tapestry of Manipur.

The Chief Minister and other opposition, as a representative of the people, should take a principled stand and push for a thorough review of the decision. In doing so, he can ensure that the Meetei community is not left behind and that their rightful place within the Scheduled Tribe category is secured.

It is time for all stakeholders to come together, put politics aside, and work for the betterment of the Meetei people and the state of Manipur as a whole other communities.


* Hijam Rajen wrote this article for e-pao.net
The writer is Executive Member of Delhi Minority Commission (Govt. of Delhi) and can be reached at hr(DOT)singha(AT)gmail(DOT)com
This article was webcasted on November 03 2023.



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