Newmai News Network
IMPHAL | September 11
The All Tribal Rights Protection Forum, Manipur (ATRPFM) has questioned the "logic" behind the Scheduled Tribe Demand Committee, Manipur (STDCM) demanding that the Meitei community should be given the Scheduled Tribe (ST) status.
"Do they (Meitei community) really want to go back to the status of 128 years ago with same educational and economic condition of 1891?," the ATRPFM asked. It then quipped, "But no community would like to roll back to that condition".
According to the tribal forum, it is upto the wisdom of the Parliament to decide, "but as per our own opinion, Meitei community is a forward caste that does not need ST status".
The ATRPFM then said that, although the Constitution does not define Scheduled Tribe, there is a clear criterion for specification as a Scheduled Tribe. "They are: (1) indications of primitive traits, (ii) distinctive culture, (iii) geographical isolation, (iv) shyness of contact with the community at large, and (v) backwardness," the ATRPFM pointed out. It then said that the Meitei community does not fulfill the above mentioned criterion, "and thus, does not qualify for specification as ST". "So, on what ground STDCM demands ST status for the Meitei community?" it further asked.
According o the tribal forum, economically, socially and ethnically, Meitei community is the most advanced community in the entire North East region. "When we see the percentage of representations in public employment of all departments, representations of Meiteis are already high," the ATRPFM said. As per rules, reservation for reserved categories shall be in proportion with their respective population, it further said. The ST population of Manipur as per Census 2011 is 34%, however, representation of STs in public employment is nowhere near 31%, it also said. "Representation of STs in public employment for all grades of posts taken together was only 23% and has not improved till date. ST status is given for such weaker segments of the society," it added.
In the legislature, according to the ATRPFM the Meitei/valley community has 40 MLAs. Both Judiciary and Executive are dominated by the Meiteis, the tribal forum also said.
The tribal forum then poinred out that, for protection of land there is already land protection law known as the Manipur Conservation of Paddy Land and Wetland Act, 2014. And for reservation purpose, there is already 10% reservation quota for the weaker upper caste, it further pointed out. "What’s more STDCM wants?", it then asked.
Therefore, the ATRPFM said that the State Government should not recommend and also should not justify the "illegitimate demand". It also said that the Registrar General of India (RGI) and National Commission for Scheduled Tribes (NCST) should not give "concurrence and consider the case".