Manipur is witnessing an outbreak of violence due to the protest against the Meitei demand for Scheduled Tribe status.
About Meitei community
The Meitei are the largest community in Manipur. They are dominant in the capital Imphal and are the ones commonly referred to as Manipuri.
According to the last census of 2011, they are 64.6 per cent of the state population but occupy only about 10 per cent of the landmass of Manipur.
Other tribes: On the other hand, there are the tribals known as the Nagas and Kukis, who account for nearly 40 per cent of the population but reside across 90 per cent of Manipur’s land.
While the Meiteis are mostly Hindu, the Nagas and Kuki-Zomis are mainly Christian. Manipur has nearly equal populations of Hindus and Christians, at around 41 per cent each, according to data from the 2011 census.
Why are Tribes against the ST status for Meitei?
Tribals including Nagas, Zomis, and Kukis against the ST status for Meitei. They comprise around 40 per cent of the state’s population.
The Meitei community are already classified under Scheduled Castes (SC) or Other Backward Classes (OBC) and is privy to opportunities that are afforded by that tag.
The ST communities of Manipur fear the loss of job opportunities and other affirmative actions granted to STs by the Constitution of India to a much-advanced community like the Meitei.
Apart from being the majority community, Meiteis also have more representation in Manipur Assembly.
That’s because 40 of the 60 Assembly seats in the state are from the Imphal Valley region – the area that is mostly inhabited by the Meiteis.
Push for Scheduled Tribe status
As of today, 34 sub-tribes of the Naga and Kuki-Zomi tribes are on the government’s list of Scheduled Tribes, but the Meiteis are not.
However, the Meiteis have long been demanding Scheduled Tribe status, arguing that it needs to be protected from the influx of outsiders and “infiltration”.
Claims made by Meiteis Community
The Meiteis blame their troubles on “large-scale illegal immigration” from Myanmar and Bangladesh and have sought ST status.