ATSUM reiterates stand on ‘no ST status for Meetei’

IMPHAL: Denouncing the ST demand movement for Meetei/Meitei, All Tribal Students’ Union Manipur (ATSUM) general secretary Joseph Hmar has reiterated that no community other than those already identified ST communities in the state should be given ST status. Speaking at an awareness and orientation programme on constitutional rights of the Scheduled Tribes in India held at Tribal Research Institute (TRI), Chingmeirong here on Friday, Joseph pointed out that there are 34 ST communities in the state.

Drawing attention of National Commission for Scheduled Tribe (NCST) chairperson Anusuiya Uikey, who attended the programme, Joseph said that giving ST status to Meetei/Meitei will result in the existing ST communities losing their rights over reservation and land protection, which could lead to their possible assimilation.

In her address, Anusuiya Uikey said that she does not have proper knowledge of the issues faced by ST communities in the state. However, the ST communities should apprise the state government about their issues for referral to the NCST only after which, the commission could take up certain initiatives to address the issues. She further said that ST communities in northeast states are among the least developed communities in the country and STs of Assam and Manipur are facing several problems at present.

As for giving ST status to a community, she clarified that the commission has no power over the matter. The work of the commission is to forward recommendations sent by the state government to the parliament, which will decide on the approval of the recommendation, she added. State Commission for Scheduled Tribe chairperson RH Gonmei, TA&H director Joseph Paulin and several well-known tribal leaders also attended the programme, which was followed by a discussion session.

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