A batch of pleas has been filed in the Supreme Court on the Manipur situation including one by a ruling BJP MLA challenging the high court order on the issue of ST status to the Meitei community and a PIL by a tribal outfit for an SIT probe into the violence that rocked the state last week.
The clashes started in Churachandpur district last Wednesday after tribals held a protest opposing reservation to the Meiteis following the March 27 high court order asking the state government to send a recommendation to the Centre within four weeks on the demand for ST status by the Meitei community.
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‘Meiteis not tribe’
Appeals have been filed by Dinganglung Gangmei, BJP MLA and chairman of the Hills Area Committee (HAC) of the Manipur Legislative Assembly, challenging various orders passed by the Manipur High Court on the ST status to Meiteis. In his appeal, Gangmei said the HAC “was a necessary and proper party and the proceedings before the High Court were vitiated on account of not making the HAC a party”.
He said, “Even if directions were to be given they could not have been given without notice to the HAC (Hills Area Committee) and hearing the HAC.” He said that due to the impugned order tension has surfaced between the two communities and violent clashes have erupted across the state.
The appeal filed by Gangmei against the March 27 order of the Manipur High Court said that three basic errors were made in the judgement which includes directing the state to make a recommendation to the Central government to include the Meitei community as a scheduled tribe in the Presidential list. “The second mistake is the conclusion that the issue of inclusion of the Meiteis was pending for nearly 10 years and the third mistake is in concluding that the Meiteis are tribes,” the appeal said.
The appeal said that the Meitei community is not a tribe and has never been recognised as a tribe and in fact they’re very much an advanced community though some of them may come under SC/OBC.
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SIT probe sought
Another PIL filed by an NGO Manipur Tribal Forum, through advocate Satya Mitra, said it has moved the top court under Article 32 of the Constitution on account of the extreme situation arising out of the attacks on the tribal community in Manipur by a dominant group. It alleged that “these attacks have the full support of the party in power … which supports the dominant group” and sought directions to the Centre and Manipur to evacuate Manipuri tribals who have fled their villages.
The PIL sought directions to the Centre and the state government to deploy central forces to protect all churches and places of worship of the tribal/Christians in Manipur with immediate effect. It urged that a team of professionals be put together to conduct an inquiry into the villages destroyed and make an assessment of the damage. It also sought payment of compensation to the victims and reconstruction of buildings including churches.
“A prayer clause has been made for the appointment of former Assam DGP Harekrishna Deka as the head of an SIT to investigate and prosecute and with a mandate to put together a team of his choice of police personnel and other support secretarial staff so that final reports are made expeditiously,” it said.
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One more appeal has been filed by the chairman of the Hill Area Committee challenging the order dated May 3 of the High Court in which notices were issued to them in a contempt petition filed by members of Meitei community.
Meiteis account for about 53 per cent of Manipurs population and live mostly in the Imphal valley. Tribals — Nagas and Kukis — constitute another 40 per cent of the population and live mostly in the hill districts.