Act not think for the future of Meiteis Reflecting reality
Time to think for the future of the Meiteis. This was Rajya Sabha MP and titular King of Manipur, Leishemba Sanajaoba, a person well placed to understand the state of the Meitei community. The observation of the honourable MP is noted and acknowledged. However The Sangai Express would like to take this observation one step ahead and say, ‘Time to Act for the future of the Meiteis.’ The Rajya MP was on track in giving the grim prognosis of the Meitei community being reduced to a minority in their own homeland and herein lies a point which no one can brush aside. Will the extension of the Inner Line Permit be enough to safeguard the existence of the Meitei community ? Let the knowledgeable and those who come under the tag of ‘intellectuals’ debate this point, but it is irrefutable that the living space of the Meiteis has been shrinking every year. The honourable Rajya Sabha MP fell short of spelling out what concrete steps the Meiteis may take to ensure the security of their future in their own land and perhaps this is where the ring of tragedy in the whole observation becomes starkly visible. An ancient community, one of the indigenous groups of people to inhabit Manipur since the days of yore and the reality today is, the Meiteis have been pushed to such a circumstance that they would need to think of their future in their own land. Grim reality, the titular king of Manipur touched on and the question of greater importance at this point of time is, what is the remedy ? Is this the time to think of the future or act on it ? This is a question which the political leadership of the day should ponder with the merit it deserves. Dominance in the political sphere is just an eye wash, for remember the seats in the valley area, which make up for 40 of the 60 Assembly Constituencies are open for anyone. Anyone from Manipur or from anywhere in the country can contest from any of the unreserved Assembly Constituency, while the Meiteis cannot contest in the 20 Assembly seats which fall under the hill areas. And delimitation, once it is effected and which the All Tribal Students’ Union, Manipur has been demanding could mean the right of the Meiteis to contest being reduced to below the 40 seats mark. The picture should be clear to anyone. Shrinking living space and juxtapose this observation against the reality of so many settlements in Imphal with names which have nothing to do with the identity of the Meitei community and the Meiteis not allowed to own any land in the hills and it sounds grossly unfair.
Take the observation of the Rajya MP against the grim reality and it should be more than clear that the Meiteis need some sort of a protection and that protection may come in being included in the Scheduled Tribe list of the Constitution of India. Time was when Leishemba Sanajaoba was an advocate for the call to include the Meiteis in the ST list and this is where his one line statement ‘Time to think for the future of Meiteis’ becomes so relevant today. One hopes the advocates of the ST tag for the Meiteis-the Scheduled Tribe Demand Committee, the World Meetei Council, the Kangleipak Kanba Lup and others have taken note of the observation of the titular King for this can be taken as a sort of a shot in the arm of the demand raised. It was with a reason, why The Sangai Express carried the call of the Rajya Sabha MP as the lead news story on March 6, 2023 and one hopes the call of the titular King did not miss the eyes and ears of the BJP led Government at Imphal. Act for the future of the Meiteis is the call. At the same time, the STDCM, the WMC, KKL and others too would need to reach out to all the others who have been striking a stand which runs against the ST demand and see how some sort of a consensus can be built.