IMPHAL, Nov 20 (NNN): The All Tribal Students’ Union Manipur (ATSUM) called on Arjun Munda, Union Cabinet minister of Tribal Affairs, Government of India, on Saturday at his official quarter at Tughlak Road in New Delhi and apprised him of the “threat and insecurity felt by the tribal people of Manipur State due to the illogical and illegitimate demand of the STDCM for inclusion of Meetei/Meitei community into Scheduled Tribe (ST) category”.
In this regard, ATSUM also submitted a memorandum to the Union minister pointing out the valid reasons why the Meitei community should not be given ST status.
“After patiently hearing out the woes of the Manipur tribal students’ leaders, the Union minister appealed to the ATSUM team to remain calm, saying that as the matter being constitutional it will be examined minutely before any decision is made,” the ATSUM said.
Meanwhile, in a memorandum submitted to the Union minister on Saturday, the ATSUM said that, in the event of the demand for inclusion of Meitei/Meetei community in the ST category gaining momentum with most of the legislators from the valley including the MP (Rajya Sabha) openly declaring their support without taking into account the ‘irrationality’ of the demand and sentiments of the tribal community of the State, the All Tribal Students’ Union Manipur (ATSUM) said it was constrained to submit this representation as a reminder for utmost perusal and intervention as the future of the tribal communities looks bleak and uncertain.
Time and again, the ATSUM said it ‘unequivocally expresses’ its stated position on this contested demand of the majority community as it posed serious threat to the land and existence of tribal people with the empirical reasoning that the Meetei/Meitei communities are an advanced community marked by 2000 years of civilisation, unbroken lineage of kingship, superlative cultural advancement with its exquisite classical dances purportedly shown as the finest form of arts, Meitei Language (Manipuri) recognised under the Eight Schedule of the Indian constitution, urban civilisation for eons, participation and signing of international treaties with the British in 1762 AD and 1826 AD, academic advancement with high literacy rate.
Presently, the ST of Manipur have 31% reservation in all State Government services, the ATSUM memorandum mentioned. “If the advanced Meitei community is recognised as ST by the Government, all the seats reserved for ST in the present will be occupied by the Meiteis. Despite already availing the reservations from SC and OBC categories, the Meiteis are insisting for inclusion in ST category with a sole objective of grasping the benefits presently reserves for the hill tribes,” it added.
Lastly, the ATSUM memorandum said, “Therefore, in the light of the above facts and circumstances, the tribal people of the State called upon your honourable self to help prevent the inclusion of Meitei/ Meetei as Scheduled Tribe in the Constitutions of India”. The recognition of Meitei/ Meetei as Scheduled Tribe will not only sound a dead knell to the constitutional protection of hill people of Manipur but also have a far reaching negative social impact on all the tribal communities in other parts of the country. The memorandum added by saying that it will be a contempt to the democratic principles of justice and equality, the foundations on which this great country is built upon.