Context: The recent violent clashes in Manipur are due to longstanding tensions between hill and valley people, the Meitei demand for ST (Scheduled Tribe) status, and a recent order by the Manipur High Court.
Summary of the issues:
|Hill-Valley Tensions||The central valley of Manipur (10% of the geographical area) is home to the Meitei and Meitei Pangals who constitute roughly 64% of the state’s population.
The remaining 90% of the state’s geographical area comprises hills surrounding the valley, which are home to the recognized tribes, making up about 35% of the state’s population.
|Meitei Demand for ST Status||The Meitei community (living in the valley) wants to be included in the state’s Scheduled Tribes list. The demand has been led by the Scheduled Tribes Demand Committee of Manipur (STDCM) since 2012. They argue that being left out of the ST list has caused the community to be victimized without any constitutional safeguards.|
|Manipur High Court Order||A single judge of the Manipur High Court passed an order asking the government to consider the demand of the Meitei community for ST status. The order has been opposed by tribal groups in the state.|
|The opposition||Both the demand and the order, passed by a single judge of the High Court, have been strongly opposed by groups representing the state’s tribal communities such as Kukis and Naga (living in Hills)|
|Reason behind opposition||Opposition to the inclusion of the Meiteis in the Scheduled Tribe (ST) category by hill tribe in Manipur is due to their dominant population and political representation of Meitei (40 out of 60 Assembly constituencies of the state are in the valley), and fear of job loss. Additionally, the Meitei language is already included in the Constitution, and sections of the Meitei community are already classified as Scheduled Castes or Other Backward Classes with access to opportunities associated with that status.|