Raising the banner of ST demand Silence of the Govt
The demand is serious and the issue is crucial. This is a point which should register in the consciousness of the BJP led Government at Imphal. Not the time to sleep over the matter. Making it all that more urgent is the fact that the Scheduled Tribe Demand Committee, Manipur, the World Meetei Council and the Salai Kanba Lup have gone on record to announce that the demand that the State Government send the needed recommendation to the Centre to include the Meeteis/Meiteis in the ST list of the Constitution of India will intensify from the second half of October. The STDCM, WMC and SKL may be at the forefront of the demand and hence the most vocal at the moment, but the Government should not brush aside the silent voices, the silent observers who have nonetheless thrown their back behind the ST call all with the objective of protecting the interests of the Meetei/Meitei group of people. The ST demand is not something new, dating back to may years with the Ministry of Tribal Affairs having communicated to Imphal to send the recommenda- tions along with the ‘latest socio-economic survey and ethnographic report for consideration of the proposal for inclusion of Meetei/Meitei community in the ST list.’ This was on May 29, 2013 and it is a bit disappointing to see that till date the Government, whether it was the Congress Government at Imphal back in 2013 or the BJP led Government here at Imphal, has not deemed it fit to even acknowledge that it has received such a feedback from the Centre. The long silence, bordering on indifference is hard to digest and it is more than right that Imphal spells out the reason why it is till sleeping over the communication to send the report. It is against this backdrop coupled with the silence of the State Government, that the STDCM in collaboration with like minded organisations such as WMC and SKL has announced that it would intensify its stir from the second half of October. Other than the series of sit-in protests what more would be needed to prod the State Government is the natural question that follows. Tough to say how, but it should be more than clear that this is not the time for the Government at Imphal to sleep over the matter. The central issue here is ensuring the existence of the Meeteis/Meiteis as an indigenous community of Manipur ! This is one primary reason why the ST call of STDCM, WMC and SKL is acceptable to quite a large number of the people who have so far preferred to remain as silent observers. The time however may come for them to come out and openly state their stand vocally. Is this what the Government wants ?
The pressure on the Government must be mounted. There can be no two ways about it, but the question of greater importance is why the STDCM has not been able to take every section of people openly ? Supported by 27 co-ordinating bodies is one important point that was mentioned in the media briefing on October 8. This is positive, but to lend more weight to such a proclamation, it would have done the STDCM all that more better if only the names of some of these 27 bodies had been named. Which are the 27 co-ordinating bodies ? Surely an answer to this can go some way in giving more weight to the point raised by the STDCM. Moreover who are the members of the Manipur Legislative Assembly who at one point of time had supported the ST demand ? Can’t their names be made public ? Or is it political pragmatism or compulsion that the names of the MLAs have not been spelt out publicly ? Either way such an information can go a long way in giving more weight and substance to the ST demand. This is the time to get everyone involved. The ground reality demands that some protective mechanism is surely needed for the Meetei/ Meitei community and being included in the ST category is one sure shot way of going about it. The wrongs of history should not continue to burden the coming generation and put their future at stake. Take a look around and the ground reality is there for all to see and feel.