ZSF says granting ST Status to Meitei/Meetei will further marginalise the tribals to total subjugation, asks for autonomous district

Churachandpur: ZSF claimed that the State government has adopted various oppressive measures against the interests of the tribal populace of the state using fraudulent documents

BY | Wednesday, 3 May, 2023

The Zomi Students’ Federation has strongly objected to the demand for inclusion of Meitei/Meetei Community of Manipur in the Scheduled Tribe category, stating that granting the said demand ‘will further marginalise the tribal populace to the point of total subjugation (socio-cultural, economic, and political), and enslaved them in their own land.’

In its memorandum to the President of India, Droupadi Murmu through the Deputy Commissioner of Manipur’s Churachandpur district, the federation said that the demand by the Meitei/Meetei Community, 70 years after the Constitution of India made provision for Scheduled Tribe, is ‘only a nefarious policy to exploit constitutional measures to grasp and dispossess the tribal people in the hills from their lands.’

ZSF cited that the Meitei/Meetei community has done exceedingly well in the fields of technology, medical, engineering, sports and civil services under Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) is indicative of their advancement. Their districts are far ahead of other districts in the whole Northeast India, it added.

Further, the students’ body stated that the Meiteis/Meeteis have superseded the component characteristic of a tribe in the course of a continuous process of civilization for over a period of 2000 years dating back from 33 AD. It also slammed the claim that the community fulfilled all the criterion to become ST on the basis of Mongoloid race and prevalence of distinctive religion and culture as ‘illogical’ and ‘irrational’.

Giving ST status to the ‘advanced’ community that constitutes more than 60% of the total population of the state will mean that the tribals would have to ‘sacrifice’ the 31% reservation that is allocated to them and that the protection guaranteed by the Constitution of India would become null and void, ZFS maintained.

In its memorandum, the federation included ‘facts and figures’ to show that the Hills, constituting more than 90% of the total geographical areas and about 41% of the total population, have been subjugated, marginalised and deprived by the state government dominated by the majority valley community for decades.

Source: Govt. of Manipur (2010), Directorate of Commerce and Industries, in Statistical

Abstract 2009.

*Small Industries Development Organisation

*Production and Marketing

Based on the stats and figures, the Zomi Students’ Federation suggested that ‘a separate political system with full autonomy will be the only way out if we are to protect the weak and marginalised tribal communities from the onslaught of the dominant Meitei/Meetei community.’

‘… nothing less than the 6th Schedule is the solution to the problems of the deprivation, discrimination and unfair treatment we face and therefore, 6th Schedule is something we will vociferously continue to strive for,” the federation appealed to the President of India.

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On forceful eviction of K. Songjang Village in Churachandpur district on 20 February 2023, the federation accused the Government of Manipur of declaring parts of the Scheduled Hill Areas as Reserved Forest, Protected Forest, Protected Sites, Wild-life Sanctuaries, etc. without following the procedure established by the Constitution of India under Article 371C and other statutes/ law for the time being in force. It claimed that the government is also contemplating to evict Kungpinaosen Village and its hamlet village namely K. Hengmol Village using documents ‘fraudulently and dishonestly prepared’ by the forest department.

ZSF claimed that the State government has adopted various oppressive measures against the interests of the tribal populace of the state, especially against that of the Kuki tribes, terming legally established and recognised villages as encroachers that is affecting the peaceful habitat of thousands of tribal populace living in nearly a hundred villages across the area. It further claimed that these ‘oppressions’ were being carried out in the ‘guise of betterment of the Environment and Forest of Manipur’, and with the intention ‘to deprive the village chiefs and land owners their rights over the land and impose Government authority over the affected land.’

Read more: Manipur: Nagas, Kukis oppose demand for Meitei being given ST status, call for solidarity march

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