IMPHAL, Dec 6 : Life in several parts of Manipur valley was disrupted as people observed a one-hour total shutdown to demand inclusion of Meitei/Meetei in the Scheduled Tribe category under the Constitution.
Organised under the banner of the Coordinating Body on Scheduled Tribe Demand Committee Manipur, markets in Imphal and other valley districts were closed. Traffic was brought to a grinding halt on roads, including highways. All normal activities were suspended during the course of the one hour-long demonstration.
A large number of women vendors of the historic Ima Keithel in Khwairamband market squatted on the road as part of the demonstration. They also staged a rally within the bazar area shouting several slogans.
“If the Ibobi Government continues to push aside and refuses to bother the long standing demand, there’ll be more agitation,” a protester said.
Similar demonstrations were staged at Johnstone Maning Keithel three and four, Panthoibi Keithel, Punshi Keithel, Gambhir Singh shopping complex, Tera Keithel, Khumbong Keithel, Naoremthong Keithel, Lamsang Keithel, Sangakpam Keithel, Koirengei Keithel, Pheidingga Keithel, Pangei Lamlong Keithel, Lamlai Keithel, Nongada Keithel, Yaingang-pokpi Keithel, Kongba Keithel, Yairipok Keithel, Konung Mamang Keithel, Singjamei Keithel, Kakwa Keithel, Thoubal Wangjing Keithel, Khongjom Keithel, Pishum Keithel, Samurou Keithel, Wangoi Keithel, Mayang Imphal Keithel, Wabagai Lamkhei Keithel, Keishamthong Keithel, Heirangoithong East Keithel, Heirangoithong West Keithel, Kwakeithel, Kwakeithel Lamdong Keithel, Thokchom Line Tiddim ground, Nambol Keithel, Ningthoukhong Keithel, Moirang Lamkhai Keithel, Moirang Keithel, Kumbi Keithel and other Keithels showed their support by staging demonstrations and raising slogans regarding the issue.
On September 18 last, a mammoth rally was carried out in Imphal to demand Scheduled Tribe (ST) status for the Meiteis, the majority group of Manipur, under the banner of the Coordinating Body on Scheduled Tribe Demand Committee Manipur.
The committee has pitched for the demand of protection of the Meitei community under the Constitution by enlisting it in the ST category under Article 341 (2).
It has maintained that the Meitei indigenous group has been left unprotected for a long time and hence it needs Constitutional safeguard by including it under the ST category.
The Coordinating Committee has been spearheading the campaign for inclusion of Meitei in the ST list. It maintains that the identity, culture and language of the Meitei group can be protected under the ST status.
A few Meitei based organisations have opposed the demand of ST status for the Meitei group which have maintained that Manipur existed as a princely state under the Meitei kings and therefore the campaign for inclusion of the Meiteis in the ST category should be discontinued.
Source: The Sangai Express