IMPHAL, May 3 (PTI): Naga and Kuki tribes in Manipur are planning a “Tribal solidarity march” in all hill district headquarters of the state opposing a demand to include the majority Meitei community into the Scheduled Tribe list of the Indian Constitution.
The rally organised by All Tribal Students Union of Manipur (ATSUM) is being supported by different tribal bodies including the Naga Students Union Chandel, Sadar Hills Tribal Union on Land and Forests, Tangkhul Katamnao Saklong and Tribal Churches Leaders Forum.
ATSUM, in a statement, had said the rally had been organised to express protest “the persistent demand of Meitei community for inclusion in ST category and the support to this by valley legislators” and “the need for taking appropriate measures to collectively protect the tribal interests.”
ATSUM’s decision comes days after an order by a single-Judge bench of the High court of Manipur, composed of Acting Chief Justice MV Muralidharan, which directed the state government to consider the request of the Meitei community within four weeks.
Scheduled Tribe Demand Committee Manipur which has been spearheading the movement for inclusion of the Meitei community in the ST category maintained “it is not about reservation in jobs, educational institutions and tax relief and is more about protecting the ancestral lands, culture and identity of the Meitei people threatened consistently by illegal immigrants from Myanmar and outside the state.”
The Meitei community accounts for around 53 pc of the total state population but are confined to less than 10 pc of the state’s territory.
Tribals inhabit the hill areas which account for more than 90 pc of the state territory, are mostly Christians by faith and account for more than 40 pc of the population.