Amid the Manipur High Court order which directed the state government to recommend inclusion of Meitei (Meetei) community in the ST list, the Hill Areas Committee (HAC) has decided to urge the state and Central governments to go for appeals against the High Court order.
The HAC took the resolution during its meeting held on Thursday, taking into account the sentiments and interests and rights of the Scheduled Tribes of Manipur, said a statement issued by HAC chairman Dinganlung Gangmei.
The HAC as a constitutional body of the Hill Areas of Manipur was neither made a party to the case nor consulted in this matter, it stated.
The resolution also stated that HAC is perturbed and aggrieved by the order of the high court in spite of strong opposition from the Scheduled Tribes of Manipur.
The Meitei/Meetei community of Manipur is already protected under the Constitution of India and categorised as general, OBC and SC, it pointed out.
Meanwhile, the All Manipur Tribal Students' Union (ATSUM) on Friday decried the High Court judgment which directed the state government to recommend the Centre for enlisting Meetei in the ST list, raising apprehension that the interests and rights of the hill people will become uncertain if the demand for ST status if fulfilled.
“The judgment is contradicting the wishes and aspirations of the tribal people and it is unfortunate and deplorable. It is an ex parte judgment that only hears the interests of the petitioners,” said ATSUM general secretary SR Andria while speaking to the media at ATSUM office in Imphal.
April 19, the day which the High Court passed the judgment, is a black letter day for the tribal people of Manipur, he said.
The demand of ST status by the socially and economically advanced community of the state is uncalled for, he said. It deeply disturbs the sense of security of the tribal people who are otherwise protected under the provisions of the constitutions, he added.
He maintained that the tribal communities have been opposing this demand on valid reasons that the Meitei community, which is comparatively an advanced community, does not merit their inclusion as ST in the Constitution. It completely negates the very objective of scheduling groups of people for protective discrimination as ST in the Constitution, he added.
He declared that the tribal people of the state will not take the judgment lightly. ATSUM will explore all options including legal means to dissuade the state government from recommending it to the Central government, he said.
“We will continue to strongly oppose this demand,” he said. The state government must desist from recommending this demand as it completely affects the rights and interests of the tribal people, and the demand has the potential of adversely affecting the unity and integrity of the people of the state.