Govt must ensure inclusion of Meeteis in ST list: STDCM
IMPHAL, 26th Jul: Understanding the pulse of the Meitei/Meetei community, the state government should send the pending recommendations to Union government at the earliest and ensure that Meiteis/Meeteis are included in the Scheduled Tribe (ST) list, Schedule Tribe Demand Committee Manipur (STDCM) has stated.
Issuing a release in this regard, STDCM publicity secretary W Ananda Meetei observed that the suspended delimitation process in the four Northeastern states including Manipur was put into motion again by an order issued by the central government on January 28. Accordingly, delimitation committees have been formed in these states.
But in Manipur, there has been strong opposition from various CSOs, organisations, political parties and individuals against the conduct the delimitation based on 2001 census report, as it had shown abnormal rise in population in nine sub-divisions of hill districts. Some political parties and CSOs have even filed petitions in the High Court in this regard. They are demanding that the delimitation exercise be conducted after finalising of the new census exercise, it noted.
While pointing out that organisations and individuals from hill districts are in support of the delimitation process in the current form, the STDC contended that the 2001 data remains controversial due to unnatural rise in population in three sub-divisions of Manipur namely Mao-Maram, Paomata and Purul. On top of this, the 2011 census report has been now released with groundwork for 2021 census report already starting.
Meanwhile, elections for Parliament, state assembly and local bodies have been going on from 2001 with electoral rolls updated from time to time. So, it will be helpful to look into the electoral rolls of the 2002 Assembly election which may also provide the approximate population, it suggested.
The Committee observed that in case of Manipur, three Assembly Constituencies namely Mao, Karong and Tadubi have highest number of voters. If the electoral rolls of these ACs for 2019 Lok Sabha election is considered there are 1.5 lakh voters in the said three ACs. Considering all these, delimitation process in the state will be very controversial and complex.
It is time for the Meitei/Meetei people who are indigenous but have no protection under Constitution of India, to know what the delimitation process will bring. According to Article 82 and 170 of Constitution of India, delimitation process should be carried out in India based on 10-year census report, but the process can be suspended according to time and situation. In accordance to 84th Amendment Act 2002 & 87th Amendment Act 2003, the delimitation process to be conducted under the Delimitation Act 2002 will not affect the number of Parliamentary and Assembly Constituencies in states but will only readjust/rationalise the ACs based on the population. There is also freeze in carrying of delimitation process in rest of India till 2026 and will only be carried out after 2026 based on latest census report, it stated.
STDCM remarked that the order issued in 2008 which suspended the delimitation process in four NE states did not mention that it will be taken up after 2026, it only deferred it until further orders. There is provision for reserving of ST and Schedule Caste (SC) constituencies under Article 330 & 332 even if there were some changes in constituencies due to delimitation process. If there is increase in reserved constituencies for ST and SC they will be adjusted from unreserved constituencies as the total number of constituencies cannot be changed.
There is no provision for reservation of constituencies that are inhabited by Meitei/Meetei community even if they are indigenes. If a constituency is to be made reserved the community should be included in ST list, it asserted. The Committee further stated that India elects representatives for governing the country based on demography. The vote of a professor, doctor or a daily wager has the same value. So, delimitation exercise designates a constituency solely based on population.
Even if the Union government listens to the protest of people of Manipur and stops the delimitation process based on 2001 census report and carries out the exercise based on a new census report, the situation will remain same for the Meitei/Meetei community. Therefore, it is imperative to find a way to ensure that the Meitei/Meetei community gets Constitutional protection, it affirmed.
STDCM emphasised that the delimitation process based on wrong census report should be stopped and ensure inclusion of Meitei/Meetei in ST list as soon as possible so that in the next delimitation exercise, constituencies populated by Meitei/Meetei are categorised as reserved constituencies and the community gets Constitutional protection.