Solidarity March of May 3 : ST for Meiteis demand not the real issueIndustrious Students’ Association, Kongpal Lai-Hiden

On 3rd May instant Solidarity Rally under the banner of ATSUM (All Tribal Students’ Union Manipur-a hill based students body) was organized by Kuki Community at Churachandpur District, located near the border with Mayanmar where proper boundary fencing is yet to take place, branding and portraying the rally against the proposed demand/restoration of the tribal status of Meetei/Meitei and inclusion in the ST list of India resulting in a grisly clash--most horrific violence ever witnessed in Manipur and it will be remembered as the “Darkest History” in Manipur.
The solidarity march suddenly turned ugly and violent with rampant shooting using sophisticated weapons on the streets of Churachandpur. More astonishingly and condemnably, well-armed Kuki militant cadres who are mostly illegal immigrants from Myanmar also directly took part in the highly tense & volatile imbroglio as evident from different social media which went viral finally leading to suspension of Internet service across the State. Not much later after the rally in the afternoon, the Kuki agitators openly backed by the armed militants swooped down at Torbung (a nearby Meitei Village) resulting in large scale burning of homes, indiscriminate killing of innocent Meitei civilians, coupled with despicable looting etc. and other condemnable barbaric acts, never experienced before, which are better to be kept shrouded in the cloak for time being.
 Here, it would be undeniable fact that the attack was a well-coordinated-plan and a direct challenge to Meitei community in the form of ethnic cleansing. The clash looks like a manifestation of deeply rooted hatred between two communities.
The sad part is that the present violent clash occurred at a time when the state Govt led by Shri N Biren Singh, Hon’ble Chief Minister has been gradually going through the path of peace and restoring normalcy after so much of bandhs and blockades in the past, because of his hectic and tireless effort on bringing emotional integration by devising many efficacious and logistic mechanisms pragmatically even by holding Cabinet meetings in different hill districts (phase-wise) and Go-to-Hills, Meeyamgi Numit (People’s Day), to cite a few among others, sharing the grievances being faced by the hill people in particular.
Escalating its impact, the indiscriminate attack spread like wild-fire over to Moreh town, located at the border of Myanmar reducing the dwelling houses and business establishments of Meitei community to cinders and even more heart-shattering was the complete  razing down of Hindu/Meetei temples to the ground beyond recognition, which are  deeply associated with tradition and culture of the indigenous Meitei Tribes.
As the power of solace/restraint of Meitei went beyond the threshold and by the compelling circumstances, Meitei resorted to retaliatory counter defensive and offensive move (action---reaction syndrome) with arson and vandalism in the limited Meetei dominated valley area bringing in its subsequent imposition of curfew with promulgation of Article 355 of Constitution.
 Meitei/Meetei Tribe of Manipur has been demanding restoration of Tribe status which was in existence before the Manipur nerged with the Indian Union in the year 1949. The Ministry of Tribal Affairs, Govt. of India vide letter No. 1902005/2012-C&IM on 29th May, 2013 intimated to the State Government of Manipur to send the recommendation, in question. For 10 (ten) long years, the Govt. of Manipur slept on the message from the Centre. Due to the prolonged pendency on the part of Govt. for about one decade, Meetei Tribe Union (MTU), one of the leading organizations demanding inclusion of  Meetei/Meitei in ST list, filed a lawsuit in the Hon’ble High Court of Manipur Vide W.P.C  No. 229 and Hon’ble High Court of Manipur subsequently, passed an Order/Judgment  on 27-03-2023 directing the State Government of Manipur to cause recommendation of the Meitei community to the Ministry of Tribal Affairs, Govt. of India within 4 (four) weeks’ time along with the mandatory Socio-Economic Survey and the Ethnographic reports. However, the Hon’ble High Court, Manipur after due consideration of the present unfortunate situation, caused to effect certain modification in its earlier judgment that the same be recommended within one year.
Afterwards, the communities already in the ST tag in certain Hill Districts illogically resorted to hue and cry expressing their anguish/angst over the High Court judgment and devised to organize the Solidarity Rally against the inclusion of Meitei/Meetei community in the Scheduled Tribe list with contemptuous intent over the High Court directive. Moreover, the Hill Areas Committee, Manipur Legislative Assembly caused to issue a letter to the Hon’ble Chief Minister of Manipur with the intention of urging the State Govt. to appeal to a competent Court  against  the High Court verdict of 27-03-2023.    The gravity of the clash/mayhem  was so tense reaching its peak in Churachandpur  (Epicentre of the infamous incident)  spreading to Moreh, Kangpokpi whilst the other hill districts didn’t witness–except organising the Rally democratically in a very few and limited districts.
Notably, the un –armed Meitei desperately ran away and took shelter in safe locations in the nearby AR Post in CCpur,  Moreh and shelter/relief camps opened at Moirang  Lamkhai, Bishnupur district and AR post at Kondong Lairembi near Moreh, to site a few while others fled to safer sites and many of whom are still untraceable.
Persons approximately estimated to be around 500 also took asylum/shelter to Namphalong in Myanmar. Some Meitei apart from this, took asylum at Waiton/Khundrakpam area of Imphal East district.
It should be clear to all that the main cause of the current turmoil/mayhem/panicky situation which led to avoidable hatred and highly condemnable communal clash between the two communities are due to:
1) Withdrawal of Suspension of Operation by the State Govt. of Manipur from the Tripartite Agreement among Govt. of India, State Govt. and Kuki Militants very recently.
2) Mass-destruction of poppy plantation/Cultivation in the Kuki dominated including reserved/protected forest by the State Govt under 0.2 War on Drugs Policy as a pivotal part to make defunct the Narco-terrorism/Drug mafia- militant- nexus and Kuki illegal immigrants involved in the infamous Scheme/Syndicate.
3) Eviction of all houses/structures illegally built/constructed in the Reserved and Protected Forest Area.
4) State Government’s decision on implementation of National Register of Citizens in line with the Gol’s pattern.
5) The recent remarks commented at Imphal by Shri Bhupender Yadav, Hon’ble Union Minister of Forest & Environment that the “State Govt. of Manipur is fully responsible to protect the reserved and protected forest areas of Manipur”, was akin to adding salt to the wounds.
6) Govt’s initiative on destruction of disputable gates constructed/erected at the cynosure/public-attention-drawn sites depicting and engraving “Anglo-Kuki War Memorial 1917-1919 “based on unfounded and fabricated history”.
7) Govt’s initiative on devising of Face-recognizable Machine/Equipment associated with detection of malpractices on preparation of fake Aadhaar Cards.
8) Govt’s initiative on Border-Wall-Fencing.