ST demand ‘will not affect’ ATSUM, STDCM or any community

Pothashang News Service : Imphal, February 23: Schedule Tribe Demand Committee of Manipur (STDCM) has reacted over opposing its demand to include Meitei in the Schedule tribe list of the Constitution by All Tribal Students’ Union Manipur (ATSUM) and All Tribal Rights’ Protection Forum, Manipur (ATRPFM).

The demand committee was reacting to the comments of the two tribal bodies over the consent of former politician and president of Senior Citizens Forum Manipur, R. V. Mingthing that he supports the campaign to include Meitei in the schedule tribe list.

STDCM said it is not right to interfere in the movement of one community by another group. “Meitei did not oppose to any tribe in the state when they include in the schedule tribe list” said general secretary of the demand committee, K. Bhogendrajit talking to reporters at Manipur Press Club today.

The decision of inclusion of Meitei in the schedule tribe list is to be taken by the government and not by any organisation, he added.

The demand is placed to make all the communities live together in the state. The reaction against former politician RV Minthing by ATSUM and STDCM as venomous to the tribal and unwise for him to support the campaign of the STDCM is unfortunate, he said.

The two tribal bodies on February 19 condemned RV Minthing’s comment on the campaign to include Meitei in the schedule tribe list. ATSUM stated that ATSUM, on behalf of the tribal people, had made its position very clear that it will oppose the demand tooth and nail. It said its decision should be respected by all in the larger interest of the tribal people.

ATRPFM also appealed the tribal leaders, politicians and eminent personalities not to co-operate with the STDCM’s campaign and alleged that there are ‘hidden agenda’ and ‘conspiracy’ in the campaign. The tribal forum appealed the state government and the Manipur State Commission for Scheduled Tribe not to recommend the demand of the STDCM cautioning that such a move of the government will bring conflict. The Meiteis and the tribals have different cultures, that indicate the difference from each other when it comes to the issue of identity, it added.

Mingthing had said the Manipur populace scattered only when the water level decreased in the low lying areas. Meiteis shifted to the valley while the others remained in their respective hills.
He said he is okay with giving ST status to the Meiteis. He justified that ST is given for its indigenous identity and not religion.

Bhogendrajit said STDCM has gone through first round of talk with the state government last October 24 and the second round of talks will conduct soon.

The campaign will not harm other communities. The government need to deal the issue seriously and act positively to give common justice to all, added Bhogendrajit.

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