We are a democratic country. No wait, we were a democratic country or rather supposed to be one. The government is down with its divide and rule games that has spread across the whole country. Slowly and steadily a false narrative is being pushed into action across states and among people that are blindly driven by propaganda. The BJP-led government in the north-east is keen on evicting the tribal sector from the states. Manipur is in a muddle that has been created to give the non-tribal community Schedule Tribe (ST) rights.
Manipur is witnessing riots among the non-tribals that is the Meitei Community and the tribal community. The violence erupted when the All Tribal Students’ Union Manipur (a student’s union) organized protests in Churachandpur district against a demand by the majority, Meitei community, for the status of ST. This special status would give the community a lot of benefits starting for farming in forest lands, low-cost bank loans, health and education facilities as well. A special government quota will be granted as well. The community is already well off and this additional privilege will be unfair as the tribals constitute 40% of the state’s population. The tribes are already struggling enough for their well-deserved rights, this inequality will be an addition.
The Meitei community mostly consist of Hindus, while the tribes are of the Kuki tribal community that are Christians. Shoot-at-sight orders have been issued as the situation cannot be subsided. All shops and stalls are being burnt down, hotels and premises are being vandalised, there chaos and constant fear in the state. The incompetence of the government has outreached their plans to exploit the situation.
BJP-led Manipur government start a drive to evict tribal villagers from reserved forests, which began in February is yet another tribal move leading to discontent among the tribes. According to the economic times, a forum claimed that despite the repeated submission of memorandums to the government protesting the ongoing eviction drive to clear reserved forests of farmers and other tribes, ‘ the government has shown no sign of willingness in addressing the plight of the people.
The indigenous tribes of India, also known as Adivasis, have long struggled to protect their rights and maintain their way of life against the encroachment of modernization and development. With a population of over 100 million, Adivasis are one of the most marginalized and vulnerable groups in India, often living in remote and rural areas with limited access to basic resources and services.
One of the biggest challenges facing Adivasis is the loss of their land and natural resources to mining, logging, and other forms of industrial development. Many Adivasis live in areas rich in minerals and other resources that are coveted by corporations and the Indian government, leading to forced displacement, environmental degradation, and loss of livelihoods for these communities.
The Indian Constitution recognizes the rights of indigenous people and guarantees them protection, but in practice, these rights are often ignored or violated. Adivasis have also faced discrimination and violence from non-tribal communities, with incidents of land-grabbing, forced conversion, and other forms of abuse.
In recent years, there has been a growing movement among Adivasis to assert their rights and demand justice. Organizations like the All India Adivasi Mahasabha and the Adivasi Women’s Network have been working to empower Adivasi communities and raise awareness of their struggles, while legal advocates and activists have fought to defend their land and resource rights in the courts.
Despite the challenges, Adivasis have a rich cultural heritage and a deep connection to the land and natural world. Their traditional knowledge of agriculture, medicine, and other practices can offer valuable insights and solutions to some of the pressing environmental and social issues facing India and the world today. It is crucial that their voices and rights are protected and respected, and that their contributions are recognized and celebrated.
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