Imphal, April 18:
The demand by Meiteis to be declared a Scheduled Tribe is gaining strength in Manipur. But the already existing tribes are not pleased.
The Scheduled Tribe Demand Committee (STDC) is planning a mass demonstration on May 22 in a bid to force the government to accept the community’s demand.
But the tribes in Manipur feel this is an attempt to corner the government jobs and other facilities by the Meiteis who are educationally advanced.
The campaign comes at a time when the tribes in Manipur are protesting against the three “anti-tribal” bills passed by the Manipur assembly on August 31, 2015.
Repeated clarifications from Chief Minister Okram Ibobi and others that there was nothing anti-tribal in the bills and they were meant to protect the indigenous peoples have fallen on deaf ears.
S. Robindro, coordinator of the STDC, said: “The demand is to include the Meiteis in the Scheduled Tribe list under the provisions of Article 342(1) of the Constitution. We are carrying on an awareness campaign.”
The STDC feels that once the differences between the tribals and non-tribals were removed in Manipur, all communities in the state would live in peace.
The total area of Manipur is 22,327 sq km. The Meiteis are the majority community. The government has not made public the community-wise break-up of the 2011 census. (IANS)