Diametrically opposing voices Raging debate on ST status


Diametrically opposing voices. So while one group, led by the Scheduled Tribe Demand Committee, Manipur (STDCM) has raised the banner demanding that the Meeteis/Meiteis be included in the Scheduled Tribe list of the Constitution of India, another group has staunchly opposed this stating that Manipur existed as a princely State for centuries and pointing out that the 5th and 6th Schedules of the Constitution were never enforced in Manipur as it was not a tribal State but an independent Nation-State. Both sides seem to have their own merits and it is refreshing to see opposing viewpoints being debated publicly. Let more join the debate for it is only via debates and discussions that the best answer can be arrived at. Amid the raging debates, one question that comes naturally is the stand of the State Government. It is on this line that the Co-ordinating Body of the Scheduled Tribe Demand Committee (CBSTDCM) has resolved to urge the State Government to approach the Centre by October this year for the inclusion of the Meeteis/Meiteis in the ST list of the Constitution. Still early days yet and no one knows how the State Government will respond to the stand of the CBSTDCM and more importantly how the Centre will view the demand for ST status to the Meeteis/Meiteis.
Interesting to note that the proponents of the ST status demand have been pointing out that the future of the Meeteis/Meiteis is at stake and hence the need for a Constitutional safeguard. The hills already have this, as they have are Scheduled Tribes, and it is the Meeteis/Meiteis who need this protection now. Let there be debates but care should taken  to ensure that the debates remain healthy and do not get reduced to one upmanship. Both sides on either side of the ST demand surely have the interest of the people in mind and it is also important to keep in mind how the hill people will respond to the movement to include Meeteis/Meiteis in the ST list. This is important for already the divide between the hills and valley is deep best exemplified by the deep divide that has emerged after three Bills were passed by the State Assembly last year on August 31. Much will depend on how successfully people of other communities can be won over. Most importantly, a meeting point between the two sides need to be brought about but the tragedy is this may be easier said than done as the people have never been known to stand united on important issues.


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