ST demand : Alibi for the May 3 rally Make it a poll call
The ST card. The All Tribal Students’ Union used this as an alibi to solicit support from all those who come under the ST tag to organise the May 3 Tribal Solidarity March against the directive of the High Court of Manipur to the State Government to send the report or recommendation to include the Meiteis in the Scheduled Tribe list of the Constitution of India. The Sangai Express has been consistent in its stand that the reason for the said rally was just an eye wash, a ploy to garner support from the Naga community and this has been more than proved right by the developments after the May 3 rally. This however should not be taken to mean that the Meiteis should give up on its demand that they be included in the ST list of the Constitution. Such has the wrong narrative taken root that the Scheduled Tribe Demand Committee, Manipur, the World Meetei Council, the Meitei Tribe Union and others who back the ST for Meiteis demand have been lying low but this should not mean that the demand is dead and gone. At the most, ATSUM has only managed to mute the voice of the ST advocates for the time being, but the facts are out there in the open and no degree of misinterpretation can bury the rightfully raised demand. Let it be very clear, the Meiteis have as much right as the existing STs of Manipur to be included in the scheduled list of the tribals of the country and it was only the folly of history that the Meiteis were left out of the ST list. No reason why one should keep sticking to the wrongs of history and the ST demand should be seen without blinkers. Or if the Meiteis do not fulfil the criteria to be included in the ST list then why should ATSUM and the others raise such a strong opposition to the directive of the High Court of Manipur to just send the report, as sought by the Centre ? The Indigenous Tribal Leaders’ Forum (ITLF), the Committee on Tribal Unity (CoTU) and the Kuki Inpi, Manipur and obviously ATSUM should answer this question. And are these organisations aware of the fact that it is not the job of the Judiciary to decide whether Meiteis fit the bill to be included in the ST list but Parliament ? No answer is expected but these are facts which cannot be swept under the carpet and this should call out the grand bluff to camouflage the May 3 rally in the first place.
Enough has already been said about how the Meiteis fulfil the criteria to be included in the ST list of the Constitution and the task now should be to give it a political dimension. Let those which have been at the forefront of raising the ST for Meiteis banner, particularly the STDCM, WMC, MTU and others put in their best foot forward and make this a major agenda ahead of the coming Parliamentary election. Try to reach out to all the political parties, particularly the big two-BJP and the Congress and see where they stand on the issue. Once it features in the Lok Sabha election, then the next step should be to take it to the Assembly election. Manipur goes to polls only in 2027, and time is definitely on the side of the ST votaries and now is perhaps the time to start the spadework of taking everyone along. Giving more teeth to the ST demand can also be taken as one way of blunting the teeth and stand of the narco-terrorists, who struck the first match stick at Torbung and Churachandpur under the pretext of ganging up against the ST for Meiteis
demand. The population of the Meiteis
including the Meitei Pangals is pegged at just 53 percent of the total population of Manipur, which is about 30 lakh. A pathetic minority in India. As a wit put it in a post on the social media, ‘A case of Manipur being for all if the Kukis choose to settle
in Imphal or the valley and a case of land grab if the Meiteis want to settle in the
hills ? ’