Motor cycle rally followed by bandh Rolling up sleeves for ST tag

The timing is near perfect. A motor cycle rally and a 24 hour bandh lined up from midnight of January 21. Obvious that the Scheduled Tribe Demand Committee knows this is the right time to strike or get its message across to the State Government to pull up its socks and do the needful to recommend that the Meitei/Meetei be included in the ST list of the Constitution of India to New Delhi. Significant to note that the motor cycle rally and the bandh call has come after Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh announced that a Bill to include six communities of Assam in the ST list will be introduced in Parliament soon. The six communities which have been named to be included in the ST list are Koch Rajbongshi, Tai Ahom, Chutiya, Matak, Moran and 36 tea tribes of Assam. The Union Home Minister announced this on January 8 while speaking on the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill. Obvious that the recent announcement of the Union Home Minister must have acted as the fillip for the STDCM to up their ante and hence the motor cycle rally and the 24 hours bandh. The bandh will not be the last and the STDCM can be expected to come out with a series of movement to pile the pressure on the Government to do the needful and send its recommendation to the Centre. How the State Government goes about preparing the recommendation remains to be seen, but the steps announced by the STDCM may be seen to be just the precursor of things to come and Chief Minister N Biren has to put his best foot forward if the BJP is to remain true to its slogan of a bandh free and blockade free Manipur.
Not that everything will be smooth sailing for the State Government and the STDCM. As things stand, many CSOs from the valley had opposed the demand that the Meitei/Meetei be included in the ST list. Moreover many from the hills, most notably the All Tribal Students’ Union, Manipur (ATSUM) had vociferously been opposing the idea that ST status should be granted to the Meitei/Meetei community. It was not so long back that The Sangai Express carried a series of articles one backing the claim that the Meitei/Meetei should be included in the ST list and the other strongly standing against such a move. It is against this reality that the State Government will have to proceed and this is where it will be interesting to observe the developments. As stated earlier in this column, The Sangai Express will refrain taking an official stand on the issue, but cover all developments related to the demand raised by the STDCM to keep the people informed. Let there be debates from those on either side of the ST demand but care should be taken to ensure that no one punches below the belt for that would amount to using unfair means. Let there be exchange of views and ideas and see how the debate influences the people as a whole.

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