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Manipur govt to form panel to study deletion/inclusion of Chin-Kuki tribe from ST list

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Shillong, January 10: Manipur Chief Minister N. Biren Singh on Wednesday said that a committee comprising all the tribal communities would be constituted to deliberate on demand for deletion/inclusion of Chin-Kuki from the Scheduled Tribes list of the state.

The proposed committee’s recommendation would be forwarded to the Union Ministry of Tribal Affairs for taking an appropriate decision, he said.

The Chief Minister’s announcement comes amidst the ethnic violence between the non-tribals Meiteis and tribal Kukis broke out in the northeastern state on May 3 last year after a ‘Tribal Solidarity March’ was organised in the hill districts to protest against the Meitei community’s demand for Scheduled Tribe (ST) status. Manipur has 34 different communities.

The Union Tribal Affairs Ministry has recently written to Manipur government to examine the representation Republican Party of India-Athawale’s national Secretary y Maheshwar Thounaojam seeking deletion of the “Nomadic Chin-Kuki” from the list of Scheduled Tribes in Manipur.

The Union Ministry made it clear that recommendation from the state government is a prerequisite to take forward the case further.

Last year, Manipur’s Special Secretary, Tribal Affairs and Hills Department in a letter to the Union Ministry of Tribal Affairs had said that “… it is requested that necessary action may be taken for deletion of ‘Any Kuki Tribe’ from the list of Scheduled Tribes for Manipur and also correct the name of ‘Any Mizo (Lushai) Tribe’ to ‘Mizo’ as approved by the state cabinet.”

Talking to the media, Thounaojam said: “I got the reply from the Ministry of Tribal Affairs regarding deletion of the Nomadic Chin Kuki from the ST list. It is a very big positive reply from the central ministry.”

He urged the Manipur government to send the recommendation for the same at the earliest.

“Two Manipur Ministers belonging to Kuki tribes have been playing a key role in demanding separate administration (equivalent to separate state) for the tribals. Hence, following Article 164 of the Constitution, I urge the Chief Minister to remove them from their Ministership,” Thounaojam said.

The Indigenous Tribal Leaders’ Forum (ITLF), an apex body of tribals in Manipur, strongly opposed the government move and said that any further attempts by the Biren Singh led government to use the state machinery to target the Kuki-Zo community would only escalate the conflict, which would ultimately be detrimental to him and the state.

“This is a well-coordinated move by the state government and Meitei chauvinists, although removing a community from the ST list is no small task. The criteria used by India’s government to declare communities as STs were decided by the Lokur Committee in 1965. The Manipur government is now trying to push for changing the criteria in its attempt to displace and deprive Kuki-Zo tribals of their rights and their land,” it said in a statement. (IANS)

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