Violent communal clashes erupted in Manipur as the Manipur High Court directed the State Government to grant Scheduled Tribe (ST) status to the Meitei community based on a 10 year old recommendation.
- The latest round of unrest erupted on May 3, 2023 when a tribal student union organized a march to protest against the demand of the non-tribal Meitei Community to be included in the Scheduled Tribe (ST).
- The divide between the Meiteis and the Kukis on various issues has aggravated in recent years.
- The Manipur High Court on April 19, 2023 asked the Manipur government to submit a 10 year old recommendation to the Union Tribal Affairs Ministry for the inclusion of the Meitei community in the ST list within four weeks.
Manipur Historical Background
- There are 16 districts in Manipur and the State is said to be divided into valley and hill districts.
- The valley accounts for about 10% of Manipur’s landmass and is dominated by the non-tribal Meitei.
- People belonging to the Meitei community account for over 53% of the state population and yield 40 out of 60 Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLAs) of the state.
- The hills that account for close to 90% of the geographical area of the state are inhabited by about 35% recognized tribes but are represented by 20 MLAs.
- The majority of the Meiteis are Hindus followed by Muslims and the 33 recognized tribes who are broadly categorized as “Any Naga tribes” and “Any Kuki tribes” are mainly Christians.
Meitei Community’s Demands for ST States
- Since 2012, there has been a constant demand led by the Scheduled Tribes Demand Committee of Manipur (STDCM) for granting the Scheduled Tribes (ST) status to the Meitei community.
- According to STDCM, the population of the Meitei Community has reduced from 59% of the total population of Manipur in 1951 to 44% as per 2011 census data.
|Several Committees are given the following recommendations
- The Lokur Committee (1965) – Recommended 5 criteria for identification, namely, primitive, traits, distinct culture, geographical isolation.
- Bhuria Commission (2002-2004) – Focused on a wide range of issues from the 5th schedule to tribal land and forests, health and education the working of Panchayats and the states of tribal women.
- A High-Level Committee (in 2013) – Under the chairmanship of Prof. Virginius Xaxa was constituted to study the 5 critical issues related to tribal communities – livelihood and employment, education, health, involuntary displacement and migration and legal and constitutional matters.