Oinam Teresa Khumancha (Pe-tang-nga) and Oinam Thoujal Khumancha (Thoujal)
Article 14 of Indian Constitution states that “(Equality before law) The State shall not deny to any person equality before the law or the equal protection of the laws within the territory of India.” On that Supreme Court of India gives two provision of classification of people as part this Article i.e., “(1). The classification must be based upon intelligible differentia that distinguishes persons or things that are grouped from other left out of the group, (2). The differentia has a rational relation with the objective of the act.”
The ‘History of Tangkhul Nagas’ written by AS W Shimray points out that Meitei community is the younger brother community of Tangkhul. Mawon Somingam in his article wrote Meitei as a splinter group of Tangkhul from Hundung. CA Thangmi in his book ‘the Thangal Naga Tribe of North East India’ points out that Thangal, Tangkhul and Meitei are brothers.
Lorho Mary Maheo in her book ‘The Mao Naga Tribe of Manipur’ maintains Meitei as brother of Mao. Cheithou Charles Yuhulung in his article ‘The Identity of Pakhangpa: The Mytical Dragon God of Chothe of Manipur’ places Meitei God Pakhangpa as their own. What all these indicate.
With simple inductive logic one can understand Meitei-Tangkhul used to be one and so Meitei-Thangal also used to be one and so with Meitei-Mao and Meitei-Chothe also used to be one. And under Article 14 of Indian Constitution Meitei Tribe should be classified together in a group with its brotherly community.
At present Meitei Tribe is singled out from grouping of communities in North East India. The question here is why all brother community of Meitei are included in Scheduled Tribe list, when Meitei Tribe is not. This indicates some kind of negative discrimination practicing by Republic of India or State of Manipur towards Meitei Tribe. One can find the principle of alienation is acting towards Meitei Tribe in Manipur and North East India.
According to the Office of Registrar General & Census Commissioner India, there are around 17 Manipuri language speakers/ population in India and according to the same there are 27 lakh Nagas in India and 14.25 lakh Kuki in India as C16 census 2011. Of that 15 lakh Manipuri speakers are living in valley or plateau commonly known as Imphal Valley which is just around 9% of total geography of Manipur. And according to 2011 census there are 2,39,886 Meitei Pangals; if the Meitei Pangal population is removed from Meitei Lon/Manipuri language speaker then the gross Meitei tribe population comes at 12.7 lakh.
Imphal Valley is shared territory between Meitei Tribe, Meitei Pangal, conglomerate of Naga and Kuki-Chin-Mizo, and many Indian mainlanders. The conglomerates of Naga got their Nagaland and conglomerate of Kuki-Chin-Mizo got their Mizoram in India, and similar structure in Myanmar.
Endangered Meitei Tribe got non, they used to have a homeland in the past but after now they got non. The mainland Indians have their own native State which they can call homeland, a place of origin. The endangered Meitei Tribe get no such luxury as legally they have no native land of their own.
Meitei Tribe is group of indigenous people of once huge kingdom called Kangleipak and now this tribe has no land which can be termed as their homeland. Somewhere in history of Republic of India and United Nations, this Meitei Tribe is negatively discriminated for ages in unaccountable manner.
According to Reserve Bank of India, it is reported that Imphal urban and semi-urban area i.e., Imphal Valley is one of the poorest regions of India. This in a way says that Meitei Tribe is one of poorest communities in India. Till now, this paper can deduce from two reports that Meitei Tribe people are very poor and have almost no land of their own. These are indications of negative discrimination towards the Meitei Tribe for a very long time. But Why Meitei Tribe’s elites still maintain an aura of Meitei Tribe as advanced, well to do community with huge resources to spend, and extra huge resources in reserve ? What they are trying to prove or what are their intentions ?
Successive Manipur State Government seem altogether in another dimension, quite unattached to plea of negatively discriminated Meitei Tribe. If this is not the case, then why Meitei Tribe is on the verge of extinction under its watch ? Or they are incompetent to provide a safeguard to Meitei Tribe ? Or the Manipur State Government simply does not care for the endangered Meitei Tribe.
When the Maharaja of Manipur, Bodhchandra Singh and VP Menon representing Dominion of India signed the Merger Agreement in 1949, they might have had the assumptions of prosperous Manipur with its Meitei Tribe and other tribes’ population with India. But the ground reality of present day is that Meitei Tribe population is on the verge of extinction with no land and wealth and without any Constitutional support to survive. Now Maharaja of Manipur Ekaikhumnabadamatikcharaba Leishemba Sanajaoba who is also a Rajya Shaba Member should go to New Delhi with a delegation to ensure the survival of endangered Meitei Tribe of Manipur with some Constitutionals safeguards like Article 342 and Article 366 (25) of the Indian Constitution. Renegotiation is a legal norm of all agreement across the globe and also permitted under United Nations guidelines and other multi-national organisations. Republic of India as a welfare State is constantly thinking of ways to protect and give prosperity to its citizens.
This renegotiation would be a welcome step to Republic of India as India is a protector of democracy and ruled based system in Indo-Pacific region. Republic of India in its path will take measures to safeguard the people of Manipur under the Constitution of India by providing Article 342 and 366(25).
The writers are PhD candidates at Central University of Gujarat and my be reached at [email protected]
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