Opposing ‘ST for Meiteis’ demand Why apprehensive ?
Numerous pressing issues. The War on Drugs is on, best exemplified by the offensives launched against poppy cultivation in the hills, the call for a National Register of Citizens and weed out those who came/sneaked into Manipur after 1951 or 1961, the opening of shelter homes to house those who have fled their homesteads at Myanmar, the standing instruction of the High Court of Manipur to send the needed recommendations or report to the Centre to include the Meiteis in the Constitution of India, the strong opposition to the ST for Meitei demand from the All Tribal Students’ Union, Manipur and the call from the Hill Areas Committee to take the case to a higher Court and clearly the hands of the BJP led Government must be full. Add the voice of dissent raised by some BJP MLAs with at least three of them having resigned from the political posts they were given and not surprising that Imphal has been drawing the attention of media houses based outside the State. Political development, this is how many would be apt to put the voice of ‘dissent’ qualified by the claim that there is no such thing as ‘camping at Delhi,’ and while only time will tell whether the voice of discontent will snowball into a ‘crisis’ or not, question still remains on whether the timing is right to raise such a voice of discontent in the public sphere at this point of time. There will be different takes on this, but one cannot help but feel a sense of deja vu-a feeling that Manipur has seen it all earlier. Ideally the focus of the Government should be on the points already mentioned here and yet at the same time it would also help for all concerned to take one long, serious look at the disconcerting voices raised. Does the voice of discontent or disillusion centre around issues which are of importance to the people and the State as a whole or are they centred more on the individual MLAs ? Those who have been following the points raised by the three MLAs may have an idea on which one sounds more likely but it has nonetheless provided enough substance to set tongues wagging. Professionals engaged with the media must have received a number of calls inquiring about the latest political developments but there is nothing much that one can say other than reporting or filing the story that has come in.
As noted here, the hand of the Government must be full. However this cannot be any reason to seek more time to send the needed recommendations to the Centre to consider the demand or point that the Meiteis be included in the Scheduled Tribe list of the Constitution of India. The opposition was always there, best underlined by the campaign taken by the All Tribal Students’ Union, Manipur some time back. Giving a more cutting edge stand to the opposition is the hat thrown in by the Hill Areas Committee, just one day after the High Court of Manipur directed the State Government to send the needed recommendations as sought by the Centre back in 2013. This is where it becomes important for everyone not to forget that it is not the responsibility of the State Government to decide whether the Meiteis fit the bill to be included the ST list or not. Its job is to just send the recommendation and lest one forgets, the recommendation is qualified by the line, ‘alongwith the latest socio-economic survey and ethnographic report’. Let the Centre study whether the Meiteis fit the bill to be included in the ST list or not. Why is there this apprehension, is a question that may be raised against ATSUM and all others who stand against the ST for Meiteis demand ? Is the feeling of apprehension based on the point that the Meiteis fulfil the criteria to be enlisted in the ST category ? Or is it a case of opposing anything that is raised on behalf of the Meitei community ? A case of saying, ‘We can come and settle on your land, when we want, but you cannot come and settle on our land’ ? Either way it makes no sense to oppose for the sake of opposing and if the apprehension of ATSUM and HAC is real then it is a fit case that the Meiteis ought to be included in the ST list. There should be no argument on this point.