Ex-IAS officer RK Nimai bats for ST status

Ex-IAS officer RK Nimai bats for ST status

IMPHAL, Feb 28: Retired IAS officer RK Nimai has categorically stated that the demand for enlistment of Meitei/Meetei in the Scheduled Tribe category would not pose any hurdle to the movement for Manipur sovereignty.
RK Nimai was speaking to media persons at his Palace Compound residence today as a part of the STDCM’s campaign of eliciting opinions and suggestions from eminent personalities on the demand for enlisting Meitei/Meetei in ST category.
For decades, an armed liberation movement has been going on and it was thought that demanding ST status for Meitei/Meetei under the Constitution of India might pose hurdles to the liberation movement, Nimai said.
However, if one studies the relationship between India and NSCN-IM which did not have any Nation of their own in the past, it can be gleaned that inclusion or non-inclusion of a community under ST category is not related with the liberation movement of the community, he asserted.
If the Government of India grants ST status to Meitei/Meetei, it would not harm the ongoing liberation movement, the retired IAS officer said.
Certain terms and conditions for inclusion of a community in ST category are laid down in Article 342 of the Indian Constitution. The terms and conditions laid down here are different from the definition of tribes given by Anthropologists and Sociologists, he claimed.
There are two camps on the question of including Meitei/Meetei in the ST category. While one camp has been staunchly advocating for inclusion of the community in the ST category, the other camp has been contending why should a community which lived as a Nation for centuries clamour for ST status.
Amidst these arguments, one should introspect into the present socio-economic and political trajectory of Manipur as well as the possible impacts of the Act East Policy and globalisation to the State, RK Nimai said.
In neighbouring Assam, immigrant Muslims from Bangladesh were found to be majority in five districts as per the 2011 census. The number of districts where Bangladeshi Muslims are majority rose to nine in 2011 and it is expected to reach 12 in 2021.
In the face of this alarming situation, indigenous communities like Tai-Ahom and Moran started demanding ST status and their campaigns for ST status was primarily aimed at protecting their lands. Of all the peoples of the entire North East who belong to the Mongoloid stock, Meitei/Meetei is the only community who are not included in the ST list or are not working for inclusion in the ST category, RK Nimai said.
Generally, a Nation when faced with difficult situations recalls past glory. For instance, Chinese people talked about Ming dynasty and Han dynasty. But now they have stopped talking about their past glory.
They are now talking about how far China can progress by 2030 or 2050. In another word, a healthy Nation thinks for the future. On the contrary, Manipur at present has been living in the shadow of the past glory and no one seems to be thinking of the future. This is a stark indication that Manipur has degenerated to the extreme.
In the absence of any Constitutional safeguard, all the prime lands of the State will be taken over by business tycoons as and when the Act East Policy and globalisation becomes a reality in the State.
Of the many MoUs signed during the North East Development Summit, 7/8 MoUs are related to exploitation of natural resources. Government would not listen to people’s voices when it comes to exploitation of natural resources.
“The highest price at which we sell our land would turn out to be the cheapest to the wealthy businessmen and traders who come from outside the State and by that time there will be many people who do not have their own homesteads”, Nimai warned.
To avoid such a gloomy scenario, the State Government ought to send a recommendation to the Government of India for enlisting Meitei/Meetei in the ST category, he said while lamenting the State Government’s lackadaisical attitude and approach towards the issue.
The question of determining whether Meitei/Meetei should be included in ST category rests with the Government of India and there is no point in arguing the matter among the people of the land.
Nonetheless, those who have been advocating for inclusion of Meitei/Meetei in ST category as well as those who have been opposing the same demand may submit facts, figures and data to the Government in support of their arguments, Nimai said.
History would not be distorted or erased when Meitei/Meetei is included in ST category rather it would go a long way in protecting their land.
“Moreover, outsiders can be barred from obtaining citizenship, we will be able to direct our economy and we will be able to give quality education to our children and future generations and they will be able to compete at the international level, if the community is granted ST status”, Nimai claimed.
On the other hand, a wrong step will lead the community to complete downfall.
The demands for ST status, enforcement of ILPS or similar mechanism and foreigners issue of 1970’s and 1980’s are all inter-linked.
There will be no solution which would be acceptable to each and every man and woman of the land and none of these issues can be abandoned to fate, he added.

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