An open letter to the Hon’ble Chief Minister, ManipurRef :- The editorial column of The Sangai Express dt. 31/01/2023
I would like to quote a few lines from the editorial referred above --- “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 practice 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 why the call to Constitutionally protect the land of the Meiteis become crucial and one should come to the realization that the only way to protect the interest of the Meiteis will lie in getting Constitutional protection and the most feasible way forward would be to regain the Tribe status it once had ……….. Among the Meiteis who oppose it, let them see the reality that is knocking at their doors.”
In this regard, I would like to subscribe my viewpoints for your kind perusal.
1) That generally all the places have their own original names, except in remote or uninhabited regions. Then why a new comer or group of people rename the place where they newly settle ?
As a practice we notice so many localities/pockets in Imphal valley have been given new names by the newcomers in disregard/suppression of the earlier names. Whether they have been given recognition to these new names by the Govt. (or Revenue Dept.) by entering in their pattas or other Govt. documents ? Such practice, as pointed out by the Editor of this daily is not desirable at all and also not in the greater interest of the state. This may kindly be looked into and redressed for good.
2) That the terms Meitei and Meetei are almost the same and mean the same people. Still we are using these two terms i.e. Meitei/Meetei in demanding restoration of tribal status of the Meiteis. It will be nice to use only one term instead of using two, to show our unity and integrity forgetting the difference of opinions in this regard. Otherwise it may cause hindrance in demanding restoration of ST status of the Meiteis. Now we need Constitutional protection for our survival. So your good self would be kind enough to see our interest and send the recommendation of the State Govt. to enlist them in the list of ST category to the Govt. of India at the earliest.
3) That as a last option, the Govt. of India may kindly be convinced of our peculiar situation which is represented below.
Total area of the State---------22,327 Sq. Km
Valley area --------- 1,843 Sq. Km (8.25%)
Geographically Manipur as a whole is a hilly State.
In the valley a) hills and hillocks (including Reserved Forest) occupy about ------300 Sq. Km.
b) Wetlands including Loktak lake, other smaller lakes, rivers etc. occupy about------350 Sq.Km
c) offices, institutions, roads, hospitals, temples, churches, mosques, airport etc. occupy about ------ 10 Sq.Km
The remaining area (1843 - 660=1183 Sq.Km.) constitutes the settlement area and cultivated area.
All the communities can settle and will settle in this small valley. However the Meiteis (general category) cannot settle outside this small valley, even inside the State. How long will they be able to survive in such a situation ? Under such Constitutional mechanism the Meiteis are shrinking day by day. Still the biggest democracy in the world cannot/does not realize it. What a big injustice it is ! The problem will become more acute when the Railways reach Imphal. In short, we are sitting in a sinking ship. Who will feel pity for us ?
In the above facts and circumstances, the Govt. of India may be requested to formulate a practical/suitable solution under the Constitution of India to protect the Meiteis and their land before it is too late.