Manipur HC adjusts Meitei ST status order

IMPHAL: Manipur High Court bench modified its earlier ruling concerning the inclusion of the Meitei community in the Scheduled Tribe list.

This decision could have significant implications for the ongoing ethnic conflict between Meiteis and tribal communities in the state.

The contentious Paragraph 17(iii) of the March 2023 order, which directed the Manipur government to assess the inclusion of Meiteis, has been removed.

This decision was prompted by concerns raised by the Supreme Court and appeals lodged by tribal organizations.

However, the court did not address the remaining part of the order that instructed the government to provide a response to the Centre regarding the inclusion issue.

The All Manipur Tribal Students Union, representing tribal communities, saw the remaining directives as equally concerning.

They argued that even with the deleted paragraph, the order still pressures the government to consider including Meiteis, which undermines their appeal challenging the entire order.

The ruling has sparked debate, with some seeing it as a positive step towards resolving the conflict, while others consider it inadequate.

Tribal bodies are maintaining their appeal and criticizing the deletion as a tactic to delay their challenge.

Meanwhile, both the Meitei petitioners and the Union government stayed silent during the proceedings.

Tension had been building between the Meitei community and the Kuki tribes for some time, but it came to a head in the first week of May, 2023. This followed the Manipur High Court’s direction to the state government, on April 14, to recommend granting tribal status to the Meiteis, in response to a writ petition.

The Kukis strongly opposed the court’s order, arguing that it would further empower the already dominant Meitei community.

On May 3, 2023, the All Tribal Students’ Union Manipur organized rallies across all hill districts of the state to protest the court order. The demonstrations turned violent, and the following day, the violence spread to the capital Imphal, with clashes erupting between the two groups.

This escalated into a continuing ethnic conflict between two communities, resulting in over 200 fatalities and displacing thousands

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