ATSUM volunteers led by president Paotinthang Lupheng and general secretary Sinruwng Andria on Tuesday knocked on the doors of Tribal leaders in the present Manipur Assembly, including outer MP, Lorho S Phoze, where they submitted a memorandum in regards to the ST demand made by Scheduled Tribe Demand Committee, which was not acceptable to them.
The team first went to the official residence of the Minister of Animals husbandry & Agriculture and Transport, Khasim Vashum and appealed to him to oppose the ST demand. They also asked for his help so that it will not be recommended by the government of Manipur upon which the minister promised to study the memorandum while stating that there is need to respect and accommodate the interest of others in the state.
At the residence of MP (Lok Sabha, outer Manipur), the team asked the MP to help them where the MP expressed his solidarity with them on their genuine fear/apprehension while telling them that everyone has the right to demand where the government should know how to balance things so that the interests of one doesn't overstep with the right and privilege of others.
“Indian is a great country with a constitution well known for its justice, equality that provides opportunity for all and I hope it will surely protect the tribal”, he said and promised to study the memorandum and that he will do his best on how to resolved the issue for which he was confident that the government will do justice to the tribal for their growth. At the same time, he also called on ATSUM not to go to extreme points but to act in balance.
After being apprised and presented with the memorandum, HAC chairman Dipu Gangmei said that there is no need to panic due to the demand made by certain communities for inclusion as ST saying that in a democracy everyone has the right to demand. The most important thing is its genuineness and there are competent authorities like the National ST commission, the Union and state government who will study and act upon it, he said.
The HAC chairman also talked about the danger of taking things in communal lines and promised that the demand of ST status will be decided based on merits and not on emotional lines. At this point of time, we can't predict or assume but the HAC will back or support the issue based on its constitutionality or genuineness, he said.
One among many others, ATSUM said that the 31 per cent seat reserved for the ST will be meaningless if the more advance and majority Meetei community are included as ST as it will mean no quota for the tribals. The tribal student body also refuted that there is nothing tribal about the Meetei community in their living, custom, dialect, economic status in support of their claim. Even in the Infrastructure development index of Manipur, the Meetei stands way ahead from the tribals of Manipur, they stated.
The memorandum was given to four tribal ministers, one MP, HAC Chairman while some were left with the PAs of Ministers as they had gone out for a meeting.
ATSUM also said that they will give the memorandum to all the tribal MLAs and are planning to meet officials of the Union government from tomorrow to raise the issue which is gaining momentum with valley-based legislators of Manipur coming out in support of the STDCM and their demands.
The president of ATSUM thanked the volunteers and said that the demand by STDCM was illogical, illegitimate in the eye of justice that had to be opposed by all and under no circumstances the state government should recommended it as it's not in the best interests of the State while also saying that the memorandum has clearly stated the valid reasons why the Meetei community can’t be granted ST status.
The president also appealed to the STDCM to refrain from demanding ST status as it had all the potential to further divide the hill and valley people and as it is also not in the best interest of the State.
Paotinthang Lupheng also said that the HAC will have a meeting on Wednesday and discuss about the ST demand asking all the tribal representatives to take prudent decision to help the tribals and stand by the desire and wish of the tribal community as the demand of STDCM for recognitions should be prevented at all cost.