Meitei bodies on hunger strike; demand ST status

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Source: Nagaland Post

Schedule Tribe Demand Committee Manipur (STDC) and Coordinating Body of Schedule STDC have launched relay-hunger strike from Sunday demanding inclusion of Meitei community into the ST list.
Titular king of Manipur Leishemba Sanajaoba was among around 100 members of STDC who participated in the relay-hunger strike in Imphal’s THAU ground. The strike will continue till August 31.
Talking to reporters, convener of Coordinating Body of STDC Motum Churamani said the state government should complete its necessary formalities for inclusion of Meitei community into the ST list within August 31.
Churamani asserted that the only way to protect the indigenous people of the state was to accord ST status to Meitei community.
He warned that the STDC will intensify its agitation if the state government fails to submit the memorandum to the Centre within the stipulated timeframe.
STDC and its Coordinating body are also planning to organise mass rally on September 18 which will be followed by series of intense agitation, he added.
Earlier, the STDC has planned to stage a sit-in-protest in front of Manipur Public Service Commission (MPSC) office in Imphal’s North AOC, however, it was abandoned after authority denied permission.
STDC has been campaigning for ST status for Meitei even as many including some students’ pressure group and tribal based bodies opposed it.
Among others, All Manipur Students Union (AMSU) has strongly opposed to the demand citing that Meiteis never remained as tribal after they began their civilization in the valley.
However, STDC is maintaining if its demand is conceded, there will be unity and equality among communities, economy will get a boost since income tax will be waived for the Meitei if they are accorded ST status. Some other bodies opposed the demand citing that Meitei in the ST list is entwined with a notion that Meitei would be allowed to settle in the hill areas if they are categorized as an ST.
But this notion is only breeding hatred and suspicion among many tribes of Manipur against Meitei. They even alleged that the campaign for ST status was driven by a craving for reservations and quotas for Meiteis.

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