Last Updated on May 15, 2023 by SPN Editor
Imphal (SPN) | The Schedule Tribe Demand Committee Manipur (STDCM) has finally broken its silence on the recent ethnic conflict in Manipur, asserting that the Scheduled Tribe (ST) demand of Meetei/Meitei has no connection whatsoever with the unrest.
In a press release, the committee emphasized that the clash could have been triggered by opposition to the government’s drive against poppy plantations, encroachment on protected and reserved forests, and demand to implement the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Manipur.
The STDCM also questioned whether a section of people exploited the emotions of the Tribal Solidarity March on May 3 in some districts to show their opposition against the destruction of poppy plantations and eviction of structures from reserved and protected forest areas.
The committee reiterated that the Meitei-Kuki clash has no connection with the demand of ST status by Meetei/Meitei and the same could be validated in hill districts dominated by Nagas remaining peaceful.
The ethnic clash erupted after rallyists of the Tribal Solidarity March attacked Meiteis in Kuki-dominated districts such as Churachandpur, Kangpokpi, and Tengnoupal (Moreh), and the latter retaliated, according to several posts uploaded on social media.
The STDCM claimed that tension was already high in Churachandpur even before the ethnic clash, which ensued after the Tribal Solidarity March.
In the press release, STDCM also reminded that a mob vandalized an open gym in Churachandpur that was to be inaugurated by Chief Minister N Biren days ahead of Tribal Solidarity March by hurling abusive language against the Chief Minister.
The committee further stated that the resultant impact of the Meitei-Kuki conflict can only be removed after a probe by an inquiry commission of the Supreme Court or other high-level institutions. It added that restoring normalcy only through relief and rehabilitation works would be extremely difficult.
The STDCM emphasized that granting ST status to Meetei/Meitei is indispensable to protect them and should not be associated with the Meitei-Kuki conflict.
The committee asserted that the ST status demand should be fulfilled as per the provisions of the Constitution, and no communities should put pressure on the government to suppress the demand.
The STDCM cautioned that opposition to the procedures to add Meetei/Meitei in the ST list would unnecessarily invite more conflicts among the people.
Refuting the narration that the demand to grant ST status to Meetei/Meitei hurts the interest of already those identified as tribes and led to conflict among the people, STDCM explained that their demand will never harm the interest of others.
The only vision of the STDCM is to live harmoniously with other communities residing in Manipur under a similar status, it said and appealed to all concerned not to make any statement that can provoke any community.
The committee stated that May 3 will remain one of the darkest days in the history of Manipur. The Tribal Solidarity March rally ended peacefully in districts dominated by the Nagas, according to STDCM, but it was otherwise in Churachandpur, Kangpokpi, and Tengnoupal.
The people who gathered at the rally in these districts, including Kuki militants armed with automatic guns, attacked Meitei villages, vandalized properties, and assaulted the villagers, which was uploaded on social media.
The STDCM claimed that the Meeteis/Meiteis also retaliated by attacking Kukis residing in Imphal East, Imphal West, Thoubal, and Bishnupur.