Disturbing call from Lamlongei ST tag could be answer
The Government should take note of the cry of protest that has come forth from Lamlongei, Mantripukhri. If not checked well in time this can snowball into a major issue which would not be in the interests of Manipur and her people. And the term ‘people of Manipur’ should be clearly understood. This word of caution is being sounded in the backdrop of reports of so many people of Myanmar being detected living amongst the local population. With the Government refusing to listen to the suggestion that it should explore the possibility of opening refugee camps to house the people who have fled Myanmar in the wake of the military take over there, there is all the more reason why the call from the Indigenous Development Mission (IDM) should not be taken lightly. Here is a case of concern and even alarm being raised over renaming a certain locality to suit the ethnicity of a people who came later to the place and such a practise if not checked in time would send the wrong message that any group of people can go, settle in a place and then give the place a name which identifies it with a certain group of people. This is where the call to Constitutionally protect the land of the Meiteis becomes crucial. Juxtapose the threat posed to the certain area of land, as sounded by the IDM, and one should come to the realisation that the only way to protect the interests of the Meiteis will lie in getting Constitutional protection and the most feasible way forward would be to regain the Scheduled Tribe status it once had. It is not only the certain areas of land at Lamlongei in Mantripukhri which has been named to align with a certain community, but take a look at the foothills of Langol and one will surely find many localities with names which sound far removed from the indigenous folks of the land. There are other places too which have now come to be identified with communities in many parts of Imphal and surely this cannot be in the interests of Manipur, particularly the Meiteis. This is where the call to include the Meiteis in the Scheduled Tribe list of the Constitution of India gains credence. Among the Meiteis who oppose it, let them see the reality that is knocking at their doors.
MLA of Kakching Assembly Constituency Mayanglambam Rameshwar was bang on target in asserting that the living space of the Meiteis is shrinking day by day and the only way to overcome this challenge is to get the community included in the ST list of the Constitution. It was short-sightedness, purely resting on the premise of a false sense of superiority or chaokhatpa phurup that led some self appointed ‘intellectuals’ of the land back then to get the Meiteis removed from the ST list and in the process expose the limited resources of the people to the sharks everywhere. The truth is, Meiteis are allowed to settle only on about 10 percent of the land which make up the whole of Manipur while the 10 percent of land is open for anyone to settle. In the process any locality in the valley area, particularly in Imphal now come under names which identify it with a particular community and there are examples galore. The demand for the ST categorisation of the Meiteis should be primarily seen through the prism of the growing need to protect the land of the indigenous group of people. Keeping this in mind, the Government should move swiftly and study the situation at Lamlongei, Mantripukhri and in the process it should also study the feasibility of putting a ban on naming any locality which align itself with any particular ethnic group. Imphal cannot become the colony of so and so community, just because all are allowed to settle here.