ATSUM hits back over HC Manipur order on Meitei/Meetei ST demand, blames State govt

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File photo/ATSUM

Imphal: The All Tribal Students’ Union, Manipur (ATSUM) has declared today that April 19 is a black letter day for the tribal people of Manipur. “The High Court judgement which directed the Manipur state government to recommend the demand of Meitei/Meetei for inclusion in the Scheduled Tribe (ST) list by contradicting the wish and aspiration of the tribal people is unfortunate and deplorable,” said the ATSUM today. “It is an ex parte judgement that only heard the interests of the petitioners,” it added.

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According to the ATSUM, the demand of ST status by the socially and economically advanced community of the state is uncalled for. The ATSUM also said that it “deeply disturbs” the sense of security of the tribal people who are otherwise protected under the provisions of the constitutions. The student body also said that the tribal community has been opposing this demand on valid reasons that the Meitei community, which is comparatively an advanced community, does not merit their inclusion as Scheduled Tribe in the constitution. The apex tribal student body also said that it “completely negates” the very objective of scheduling groups of people for protective discrimination as ST in the constitution.

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Therefore, the tribal people of the state will not take this judgement lying down, the ATSUM also said. “We blame the state government because of whose consent such an ex parte judgement was delivered. We will explore all options including legal means to dissuade the state government from recommending it to the central government. We will continue to strongly oppose this demand,” the ATSUM asserted.

The tribal student body then said that the state government must desist from recommending this demand “as it completely affects the rights and interests of the tribal people, and also as the demand has the potential of adversely affecting the unity and integrity of the people of the state”. 

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The ATSUM then appealed to the state government to uphold the emotional integrity of the state “which is bound to disintegrate once the demand for inclusion of Meitei in ST is granted”.

The meeting of the tribal students’ organisations of the state convened by ATSUM today then acknowledged the prompt action of the Hill Areas Committee (HAC) for taking into account the sentiments, rights and interest of the scheduled tribes of Manipur with respect to the Meitei ST demand vide its resolution no.55/2023 – (HAC) dated 20th April 2023.

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