The Tribal Solidarity March against Meetei/Meitei ST Demand called by the All Tribal Student Union, Manipur (ATSUM) witnessed thousands of participants marching in the hill districts of the state under the banner, ‘Come now let us reason together’. The rally raised strong objections to the demand to include Meetei (Meitei) in the Scheduled Tribe list.
The march was a grand success in Churachandpur district where a record crowd, estimated to be more than one lakh, including students started the the march from Lamka Public Ground, Hiangtam Lamka and culiminated at Peace Ground, Tuibong, as reported by our Churachandpur correspondent. There were no reports of any untoward incident till 1 pm.
Leaders of student unions submitted a memorandum for the President of India to the deputy commissioners of Churachandpur at Mini Secretariat Complex where they highlighted their opposition to the demand of ST status by the Meiteis. They also raised their concerns regarding the issue with the Reserved Forest/Protected Forest/ Wildlife sanctuaries in Manipur.
IFP Tamenglong correspondent added that hundreds of people staged the tribal solidarity march organized under the banner of ATSUM supported by various civil organizations in Tamenglong district. All shops and markets remained closed during the rally.
The rallies began from Haipou Jadonang Park and ended at the mini stadium Tamenglong where several leaders spoke about the purpose of the rally. Condemnations were raised against counter blockades which were reportedly carried out in the valley areas.
Speaking to media persons after the rally, ATSUM forest and environment secretary TP Dining thanked all the participants. He urged all the students to study hard and learn about tribal issues and be well versed about the issues. Later, leaders submitted a memorandum to the President of India through the deputy commissioner of Tamenglong.
In Chandel district, different tribal communities, students, members of different organisations, religious leaders and village chiefs of Chandel district took part in the march organised by the Naga Students Union Chandel (NSUC) and the Kuki Students Organization (KSO) Chandel District supporting the march organised by the All Tribal Students Union Manipur (ATSUM).
Various placards were displayed during the march which started from Chandel Indoor Hall and went through Japhou Bazaar and continued till DC Chandel Office Complex.
The Naga Students Union Chandel (NSUC), Kuki Students Union (KSO) Chandel and the constituent units of NSUC which are ALT, ASUM, CANA, LKK, MSU, STS, TTBR, TTTR and UPK submitted a memorandum to the President of India through the deputy commissioner of Chandel Mayanglambam Rajkumar.
IFP Kangpokpi Correspondent reported that the march witnessed the participation of thousands of people across the Kangpokpi district and ended peacefully.
Speaking to the media, ATSUM's finance secretary Kakai Singsit, who is also one of the in-charge of the Solidarity March in Kangpokpi district said that the wide-range response of the tribal populace also demonstrated that the tribal people are united on the issue of ST demand by the Meetei (Meitei) community.
The rally marched toward deputy commissioner Kangpokpi's office from Brig M Thomas Ground where some ATSUM leaders accompanied by various other tribal organisations leaders met the deputy commissioner and submitted a memorandum addressed to the President of India for forwarding the same to the president.
The marchers held placards that read, ‘Meiteis already enjoy SC, OBC and EBC reservations’, ‘Meiteis can’t eat all the pie and have it too’, ‘Meiteis are not tribals, they are SC, OBC & Brahmin’, ‘No protection for our land if Meiteis become ST’, ‘Tribals of Manipur Unite’, ‘How can a community with two-third seats in the assembly demand ST status?’, ‘Government of Manipur stop evicting us from our land’, etc.
A banner that read, ‘We want 6th Schedule for our Survival, No 6th Schedule no rest’ was also displayed.