ST demand driven by reactionary outlook : Macha Leima

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IMPHAL, May 5: All the likely benefits and opportunities that may be reaped by Meiteis through their enlistment as a Scheduled Tribe is not a question pertinent to the contemporary period.
The Meiteis are not in the stage of a tribe and they don’t qualify to be grouped among tribes even if one studies Meiteis through the parameters prescribed by the Indian Constitution, asserted a statement issued by the Manipur Chanura Leishem Marup, popularly known as Macha Leima.
The notion that Meiteis would not survive if they are not included in ST list evokes some serious questions.
Although it remains a riddle, the Meiteis and other communities of the land have been struggling to identify the root causes of the predicament being faced by Manipur today, it said.
To solve the riddle, one needs to study all the social, economic and political aspects of Manipuri society.
The tendency to attribute all the problems/issues which resulted from the absence of a dignified position of Manipur among the comity of Nations to Meiteis’ non-inclusion in the ST list is an attempt to distort the narratives revolving around the age-old adage Maikei Khuding Yengu, Apunbana Joy Oiri (rough translation: Look in all directions, victory lies in unity).
Different communities have been exploring ways and means to disentangle themselves from the collective history of Manipur which is traversing in reverse gear.
The civil movements which demanded Statehood for Manipur when it was kept as a Part C State were waged in search of dignity and self-governance. Likewise, the armed movement seen in Manipur can also be viewed as an exploration of a plausible means to free Manipur from its myriad miseries.
The struggles being made by different political parties and other organisations are in search of a remedy for the maladies plaguing united Manipur. They are not searching separate remedies for each community.
However, some reactionaries have been trying to project all the socio-economic and political challenges which resulted from Manipur’s prolonged suppression as a Part C State as outcomes of Meiteis’ failure to get themselves enlisted in ST category in 1950.
The reactionary elements have been trying to project the maladies of collective Manipur as community specific maladies.
They are also trying to project the roots of these maladies as consequences of inter-community conflicts. Again, they have been trying to project that the maladies afflicting Manipur have their root causes in the backwardness of the indigenous communities, not because of suppression by external forces.
The demand to convert Meiteis as a Scheduled Tribe is an attempt to demoralise Meiteis and rob their instinct to face challenges, Macha Leima asserted.
The struggle to bring all communities of Manipur at a level should be a struggle to extricate all communities from tribal social formation. Such a struggle cannot mean Meiteis getting tribal status.
People need to study who are those people who are craving for ST status, and who are leading the campaign for the same status.
If one studies the arguments put up in support of the ST demand, the champions of the ST demand can be perceived as obstacles to the struggle for exploring remedies to the maladies afflicting Manipur as a whole, it said.
The attempt to project Manipur as bereft of any proud legacy as if Manipur is a minnow as compared to India contradicts the current of history.
The Manipuri civilization was built over a period of thousands of years but the reactionary elements have been attempting to project the same civilization as tribal social formation. It is an attempt to inculcate a notion among Manipuri people, particularly Meiteis that the only way for survival is acting subservient to external forces. If such a notion has been somehow ingrained in the minds of the masses, they would surely sound like a death knell for not only Meiteis but the whole Manipur, Macha Leima continued.
The conflict over whether Meiteis are tribe or not is a political technique to keep away Meiteis from the many issues surrounding them.
Instead of facing the politics which drove the Naga peace agreement, the reactionary elements have been citing the case of Ahoms (of Assam) in their pursuit of ST status for Meiteis.
The responsibilities shared by Ahoms in the history of Assam vary considerably with the responsibilities shared my Meiteis in the history of Manipur, it added.

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