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Manipur ST demand panel to ban rly construction works

Members of the ST Demand Committee addressing a press conference in Imphal on Wednesday. – Photo: Correspondent
 IMPHAL, Sept 4 - The Scheduled Tribe Demand Committee of Manipur (STDCM) has announced agitation programmes, including banning of construction works of the Railways in the State from September 6, to protest against alleged non-fulfilment of demands by the State Government.

“We have been compelled to take this decision as the authorities are constructing railway tracks in the name of development instead of addressing our demand for Constitutional safeguards for the Meetei/Meitei community,” said convener of the coordinating committee of the STDCM L Romesh Meetei.

“This does not mean that we are against development. We are only seeking Constitutional safeguards first,” he clarified.

Romesh, along with STDCM president Dhiraj Yumnam and other functionaries of the committee, addressed media persons here this afternoon after the State Government “failed” to make its stand clear on their demand for inclusion of the Meetei/Meitei community in the list of Scheduled Tribes in the recently concluded session of the State Assembly.

Romesh also appealed to the Railway authorities to stop their ongoing construction works in the State till the Meetei/Meitei community is included in the ST list, considering the sentiments of the indigenous people.

The committee also made it clear that it would not be responsible for any untoward incident if its appeal was not heeded. The STDCM has been demanding inclusion of the Meetei/Meitei community in the ST list for the last eight years. Despite many assurances, the State Government is yet to submit its recommendation on the issue, the convener claimed.

The STDCM has been urging the State Government to submit its recommendation to the Union Government after the Ministry of Tribal Affairs had sought the State Government’s view on this issue on May 29, 2013.

According to the STDCM, the Meiteis who face the threat of becoming a minority, need Constitutional protection to bring about a cohesive and harmonious society in Manipur.

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