The Scheduled Tribe Demand Committee of Manipur (STDCM) on Thursday categorically stated that the demand is solely for constitutional protection and appealed to the leaders of different tribal organisations and groups to stop justifying their opposition to the demand.
Speaking to the media at Manipur Press Club on Thursday, STDCM president Dhiraj Yumnam noted that soon after the Manipur High Court directed the state government to submit recommendations for inclusion of Meitei/Meetei in the scheduled tribe list, and to consider the case within a period of four weeks, different organisations and groups of tribal community started condemning the HC direction and even opposing the demand for inclusion of the Meitei/Meetei in the ST list.
It was extremely unfortunate that even the Hill Area Committee (HAC) of Manipur Assembly and ATSUM, which was already in the scheduled tribe list, condemned the HC direction. “The reactions are coming as if we are not in a blood relationship; we are not brothers and we are not staying together in the same land,” he remarked.
Protection of the valley is highly important, he said, adding, the hill people will face a severe impact if the Meitei community becomes extinct.
“It is in the interest of all indigenous people that the Meitei community be given constitutional protection”, Dhiraj said. The demand of ST list is not for snatching reservation or encroachment upon others, he further said.
“Even if there are any misunderstandings or doubts, then we can sit together with the government for clarification,” he said.
He further said that the STDCM urges the state government to submit the recommendation within the given time bound. If the state government fails to do so, then the STDCM is prepared to launch strong agitations, he added.
He also informed that after looking into the present scenario, the STDCM has decided to conduct a consultative meeting for taking further steps.
He recalled the agitations and protests which had been conducted in the demand of ST list. In the absence of constitutional protection, the Meitei/Meetei community has become a minority in their own ancestral land and turned refugees in its own land, he lamented. The demand is under the Constitution, he added.