Who are the Meitei, Manipur’s valley-dwellers with an old and rich history?

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Source: The post is based on the article “Who are the Meitei, Manipur’s valley-dwellers with an old and rich history?” published in Indian Express on 11th May 2023

What is the News?

The All-Tribal Students’ Union of Manipur (ATSUM) has carried out a solidarity march in order to oppose the demand of the Meitei Community to be included in the List of State’s Scheduled Tribes(ST).

The march broke into violent clashes after an order from the Manipur High Court, directing the State to pursue a 10-year-old recommendation to grant ST status to the non-tribal Meitei community.

Who are Meitis?

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The Meiteis are divided into seven Salai or clans — Mangang, Luwang, Khuman, Angom, Moirang Kha, Ngangba, and Sarang Leishangthem.

Why does the Meitei community want ST Status?

The Meitei community has been demanding ST status since 2012, asking to provide them with constitutional safeguards to preserve their culture, language, and identity.

The Meiteis argue that they were recognised as a tribe before the merger of Manipur with India in 1949 but lost their identity after the merger in India.

As a result of being left out of the ST list, the Meitei community feels marginalized and victimized without any constitutional protections.

Their population, which was 59% of the total population of Manipur in 1951, has now been reduced to 44% as per 2011 Census data.

They believe that granting ST status would help preserve their ancestral land, tradition, culture, and language, and safeguard them against outsiders.

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