Meiteis have superseded all tribal traits to qualify as ST: ANSAM

Imphal: ANSAM lists several characteristic indicating advancement of Imphal valley, Meetei/Meitei community

BY | Sunday, 18 February, 2024

The All Naga Students’ Association, Manipur (ANSAM) has said that the 2000 years old Meeteis/ Meiteis have superseded all tribal traits to qualify as Schedule Tribe, objecting to the “advanced” community’s demand for inclusion in the ST list.

In its representation to the Governor of Manipur, Anusuiya Uikey, on 17th February 2024, ANSAM said that the demands of the Scheduled Tribe Demand Committee of Manipur (STDCM) “imperils the aim of constitution i.e. to promote, protect and special care for a weaker section” and provided reasons to justify its opposition of campaign for inclusion of the dominant community in the ST list of India.

While acknowledging that the Meeteis/ Meiteis, like any other community, must have had tribal roots, ANSAM stated that the community, which dates back to 33 AD, have superseded all tribal traits to be categorised in the list of the scheduled tribe in its process of evolution.

“Whereas, claiming tribal roots in the twenty first century is ill-conceived and ill – timed demand because it is a moment of reversal of social strata, descending from civilised to uncivilised, urban to rural, literate to illiterate, light to darkness, forward to backward with an ulterior motive to further suppress and exploit the regressed tribal society,” ANSAM stated.

The umbrella association for all Naga students in Manipur also maintained that the Meetei/ Meitei community does not fulfil the criteria laid down by the Constitution of India for determining ST status.

“A case study with special reference to the Meetei/Meitei community of Manipur for inclusion in the ST list is quite debatable on the question of homogeneity of such ethnic group after centuries of ethnic mixing in the course of Civilisation with various ethnic groups at different point of time, specially with Burmese and their ethnicities who came in the course of several wars and demographic movement down the line and with sizeable proportion of people from Bengal, Assam and Bihar who were merged into the mainstream ethnic fabric of Imphal valley by ties of inter marriage and cultural assimilation after the emergence of Shanti Das Gosai, a hindu preacher from sylhet during the reign of Garib Niwas in1728 AD,” ANSAM claimed.

Student body stated that the social strata within the Meetei/Meitei community viz, General, Other Backward Classes (OBC), Scheduled Caste (SC) and the social fabric woven underneath its strata will be impossible to dissect or segregate.

ANSAM listed several characteristic indicating advancement of Imphal valley and the Meetei/Meitei community such as the development infrastructure, connectivity, the inclusion of Meitei script/Meitei Mayek in the 8th Scheduled of the Indian constitution, ample representation in Central services, political representation, high literacy rate, etc.

The Association further claimed that the tribals of Manipur are neither safeguarded by the sixth scheduled nor is administered within what the constitution calls “Tribal Areas” of the Fifth Scheduled, adding that the tribals are being merely governed under Article 371(C) which has become redundant due to non implementation of the “Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business”.

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