After All Naga Students' Association Manipur (ANSAM), the Kuki Students' Organization, General Headquarters (KSO-HQs) has placed its stand against the STDCM demand for inclusion of Meitei/Meetei under the Scheduled Tribe (ST) category.
The Kuki students' apex body of Manipur said that the demand for inclusion of Meitei/Meetei under the Scheduled Tribe category is considered with the greatest trepidation from the tribal communities of the state.
Strongly opposing the STDCM demand for recognition of ST status, the KSO General Headquarters submitted a memorandum to the Hill Areas Committee (HAC) chairman, Dinganglung Gangmei.
In its memorandum, the KSO stated that in Manipur the tribal people have always been beset with many issues but the demand by the Meitei community for ST status is going to have the most adverse impact on the tribal people as whatever constitutional protection that the tribal people in the state have now will all be rendered meaningless once the Meitei/Meetei community becomes a Scheduled Tribe.
As such, the HAC members, as elected representatives of the hills areas, must stand up for the interest of the tribal people. However, much to the consternation of the tribal people, the 20 tribal MLAs maintained a stoic silence on the matter for reasons not spelled out till today when most of the elected Meitei/Meetei MLAs and ministers have openly voiced their support to the 'illogical demand' without considering an iota about the sentiments of the tribal people whose existence and survival is under serious threat because of the ST demand, it stated.
It also conveyed that the docile attitude of the tribal MLAs as well as ministers has not gone down well with the tribal people and will invite serious repercussions if not dealt with in the right seriousness.
The KSO General Headquarters also pointed out a few of the important reasons as to why the Meitei/Meetei community should not be given the ST status.
Firstly, it is proven and substantiated beyond doubt that the Meiteis/Meeteis are advanced communities having superseded the characteristics and criteria for inclusion into the ST category. The fact that they have 2000 years of unbroken civilization determined by kingship and regal court culture, signing of international treaties with foreign powers, and trade and commercial relationships with the neighbouring states of erstwhile Burma, United Kingdom, Ahoms, etc. are all indicative of the fact that the Meitei/Meetei communities have an advanced civilization since aeon.
Secondly, the aesthetic qualities of the Meitei/Meetei culture can be determined by the inclusion of their dances into the classical dances of India. Most of their classical dances are internationally acclaimed and of the highest finesse.
Thirdly, the inclusion of the Manipuri Language into the 8th Schedule of the constitution and having a script (Meitei/Meetei Mayek) of their own corroborates their advancement.
It should be kept in mind that the tribals are historically disadvantaged people, secluded from the rest of the world, socially and economically backward, academically retarded, and regarded as untouchables and this is the reason why the founders of the constitutions thought it prudent to give them constitutional protection for their development and growth. As such the surging demand for inclusion into the ST list from the advanced communities of India as well as the Meitei/Meetei communities with an eye for the job reservations and other benefits it accompanies will defeat the very purpose of the scheduling of the backward communities in the Constitutions, it stated.
The KSO General Headquarters also pointed out that recently the advocates of the ST demand have openly stated that they are not allowed to buy land in the hill areas whereas there is no restriction for tribal communities to buy and own land in Imphal while stating that if the real intention of the ST demand is done with the motive of foraying into the hill areas, as evident from the statement, this is something that needs to be viewed seriously.
So, it is incumbent on the part of the HAC members to shed their inhibitions and take necessary steps so that the ST demand is thwarted and prevented from being recommended by the state government, it stated.
The state government's recommendation of this demand has to be prevented at all costs in order to safeguard the land, culture, and tradition of the tribal people, it added.