This is not taking a stand on the question of whether the Meiteis should be included in the Scheduled Tribe list of the Constitution of India or not.
However it remains that demanding ST status for the Meiteis should not be interpreted along the line of Meiteis intruding on the rights and privileges of the Nagas and Kukis of Manipur, who are already in the ST list of the Constitution of India.
Moreover it should stand that it is not the job of any student organisation to say whether Meiteis fulfil the criteria of being included in the ST list or not.
For that there are experts constituted by the Government of India and at the State level, there is the Manipur State Commission for Scheduled Tribe, which is there to study the socio-economic status of a community.
The report is yet to be received but already a raging debate has been kicked up with the Meiteis clearly divided over the question of whether they should be included in the ST list or not.
Add to this now the latest stand of ATSUM and things can certainly get dicey from here and if the matter is not dealt with sensitively it can have the potential to pitch the two contending ideas within the Meitei society against one another and between communities too, if the stand of ATSUM is anything to go by.
Given the sensitivity of the issue at hand, The Sangai Express will not take a stand, but just state some obvious points that have been made in different social media.
As a gentleman put it in a discussion on the subject in a Whatsapp group, including the Meiteis in the ST list will not affect the reservation position in the State and went on to cite the case of Nagaland which has reservation policy for different tribes.
The same may be applied in Manipur too, went the observation.
To strengthen his point, the gentleman also questioned whether the Nagas and Kukis of Manipur can stop the inclusion of other communities in the ST list such as the Ahom and Tais.
The point is let the question of whether Meiteis should be included in the ST list or not be decided by the experts and let the debate of whether the Meiteis should ask for ST status be left to the Meiteis.
For as things stand, ST status for Meiteis will not mean infringing on the rights of the Nagas and Kukis in Manipur.
Moreover the question of whether Meiteis fit the bill to be STs should be left to the experts and the duly recognised institutions and not student bodies.
Apart from this the days ahead can certainly turn more stormy for the BJP led Government in Manipur.
It cannot afford to antagonise any section of the people, but it should be kept in mind that the wish and aspirations of the majority should prevail.
Let the Meitei people decide whether they are for inclusion in the ST list or not and perhaps some sort of a referendum may be held amongst the Meitei people here.
Once the issue is decided amongst the Meiteis then leave it to the wisdom of the Centre to include or not to include Meiteis in the ST list.
Remains to be seen how things will unfold in the coming days, but let it also be clear to all, that is those who oppose the proposition that the Meiteis be included in the ST list as well as those who advocate that Meiteis be included in the ST list, that in the debates that will follow, the media, the messenger, is not pressurised under any way.
Source: The Sangai Express