Peddling ST issue to hide real motive Lies and more lies

The demand to categorise the Meiteis in the Scheduled Tribe list of the Constitution of India is not central to the ongoing clash between the Meiteis and the Kukis and this was used as the bait to take all the groups under the ST tag along with the Tribal Solidarity March on May 3. This lie has been called out on more than one occasion in this column and let it also be very clear that the order from the High Court of Manipur to the Government to Manipur was nothing more than to comply with the report sought by the Ministry of Tribal Affairs. A report sought not in 2023 or even in the 2020s but back in 2013. The job of the State Government was just to send the report and it is the job of Parliament to decide whether the Meiteis fit the bill to be tagged as a Scheduled Tribe or not. The argument should end here but it has not. The ST for Meiteis demand goes more than a decade back. Rallies have been staged, sit-in protests have been held and Ministers and MLAs have been approached to get their stand on the issue, and not once has violence of any sort been associated with the demand. Rather it was more about debating the demand or issue on the pages of newspapers and other medium and The Sangai Express has still not forgotten the debate  between the All Tribal Students’ Union, Manipur and some advocates for the ST for Meiteis demand. A number of individuals, with some knowledge on the subject, had also taken the trouble of penning down their thoughts on paper and highlighting the same in the newspapers and it is astonishing that some elements have tried to put the ST for Meiteis demand as the focal point of the ongoing clash between the two communities. To repeat a point, the Tribal Solidarity March of May 3 proceeded and ended peacefully at Senapati, Tamenglong and Ukhrul, all Naga dominated districts, while it ended in violence at Churachandpur and spread in no time to Kangpokpi and Moreh, two places dominated by the Kukis. The question is, why should a demand that has never been associated with any sort of violence be made the focal point of a rally that had aggression written all over it ? Only ATSUM and the more recently formed Indigenous Tribal Leaders’ Forum can answer this, but doubtful if any answer would be forthcoming.
Do the Meiteis fulfil the criteria to be included in the ST list of the Constitution ? This is for the Centre to decide, but it stands that the Meiteis were referred to as a Forest Tribe of Manipur in the Census report of 1891, 1901 and 1931 and the Imperial Gazetteer of Indian-provincial series Eastern Bengal and Assam 1909. Forest Tribe and to this day, it is the Meiteis which continue to worship the Umang Lai and give so much prominence and importance to the divines associated with Nature, such as the homestead one lives in. Mount Koubru continues to be worshipped to this day and so too with Thangjing Lai at Thangjing Ching. It is another thing that brazen attempts were made to change the name of Thangjing Ching to Thangting in cahoots with some corrupt officials of the department concerned. As stated earlier, let the experts or the Ministry concerned get down to the nitty gritty of studying whether the Meiteis fulfil the criteria to be included in the ST list of the Constitution, but it should be clear that this cannot be identified as the reason for the violence that broke out on May 3. Everyone knows how houses were torched and the inhabitants forced to flee their homes on May 3 evening at Torbung after the Tribal Solidarity March. This happened sometime after 3 pm, and Imphal reacted violently later in the evening, well after sunset. Lies and more lies is the pathetic attempt that one sees to conceal the primary objective of organising the May 3 rally and the lies continue to fly to this day.