With reference to your representation to Jaswanthsinh Bhabor, Union Minister of State for Tribal Affair, Government of India, regarding inclusion of the Meetei in the list of scheduled Tribe, we, on behalf of Pan Meetei Convention would like to say the following —
We may begin, by stating in a nutshell that the Meetei are a people made of seven clans or SALAI TARET – Khuman, Luwang, Mangang, Angom, Moirang, Kha-nganba and Salang-Leishangthem. According to Meetei mythology the seven SALAI are the seven sons of Pakhangba, the son of God, ATIYA MARU SIDABA. Accordingly the seven sons became the progenitors of the seven clans or the Salai Taret, who formed the Meetei some thousands of years before the birth of Jesus Christ.
After the independence, when a list of different tribal groups, who happened to be indigenous people, was prepared by the concerned authority of the Indian Government to enlist them in the scheduled tribe list of the Indian Constitution, all the indigenous groups of the North East were included except maybe the indigenous Meetei people. The reason was, the Meetei were Hindu converts and the then Meitei leaders claimed that the Meetei were the descendants of Brabubahon son of Arjuna of the Pandava of the Hindu epic the Mahabharatta. That was a travesty of the fact of Meetei being Hindu converts.
Since 2012, STDCM (Scheduled Tribe Demand Committee Manipur), on behalf of the Meitei people has asked the Government of India to rectify the wrong that it had committed against the Meetei people by leaving them out of the ST list six decades ago. Now the STDCM demands to put the indigenous Meitei people in its rightful place in the list of scheduled tribe of the Constitution, without further delay. The demand is genuine by all measures. Now, coming to your apprehension that is clearly reflected in your representation to the Union Minister, quote, “until and unless proper Constitutional protection with special administrative provisions specifically and exclusively for the currently recognized 34 hill tribes of Manipur are put in place and their implementation without any outside interference a mandatory requirement, the Meitei ST demand should not be further entertained so as to avoid a disoriented, highly volatile and destructive state of relationship and existence between the hill tribes and the Meitei/Meetei”.
In this connection, we would like to say that we genuinely appreciate your concern and apprehensions. And we can assure you of our full cooperation with you to fight to protect your interests in matters of your fair share in the State Government job, education and land, because we do not mean any ill will against any of our neighbors.
We believe that the State can also make relevant laws in matters of job and education by the State Assembly as it is done in the neighbouring State of Nagaland. Perhaps, together we may ask the State to make specific land laws to protect both the hill and the valley people.
The truth is Meetei people need to have a level playing field in the national level. And we want to protect the little area of the valley of 700 square miles which is the only natural habitat of the Meitei people on this planet.
For ages we have been living together. We had our good times and bad times as well that we had experienced together. The past is our shared history. We truly believe we can always find a way out that will take care of your apprehensions. We hope, we can sit together and sort out the differences as good neighbours.
We expect a positive response from your end.
Yours most sincerely
Pan Meetei Convention