Campaign for ST demand

The coordinating body of the Scheduled Tribe Demand Committee today launched a campaign here to create awareness and garner support for the demand to include Meiteis in the ST list.

By Khelen Thokchom in Imphal
  • Published 13.10.17
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The activists at Congress Bhawan in Imphal on Thursday. Telegraph picture

Imphal, Oct. 12: The coordinating body of the Scheduled Tribe Demand Committee today launched a campaign here to create awareness and garner support for the demand to include Meiteis in the ST list.

The coordinating body, a conglomerate of several citizen organisations, has been spearheading the campaign.

Today's campaign came after a public meeting organised by the coordinating body last month had set October 20 as the deadline for the N. Biren Singh government to act on the demand.

Nearly 20 volunteers of the committee came to the office of the Manipur PCC located on Bir Tikendrajit Road, beating langdeng (drums) and holding placards. The committee termed today's event as a "red badge campaign".

"We are today launching the red badge campaign to create awareness among political parties and business community on the demand for ST tag on Meiteis and also to seek their support," Mutum Churamani, convener of the committee, said.

The volunteers, beating drums, marched on the city streets and pinned badges on passersby, shopowners and others, seeking their support.

When they entered Congress Bhavan around noon, the party leaders present came out of their rooms and received the volunteers.

They pinned red badges on the shirts of the Congress leaders.

Some of the leaders even posed for photos with the drummers and volunteers.

"This is a movement of the people. Our party cannot stand against the aspirations and wishes of the people," Bidyapati Senjam, general secretary of the PCC, told this correspondent.

A similar ritual was repeated in the office of the Manipur Peoples Party, located in Statehood Square.

After marching out of the MPP office, the campaigners were asked by police not to beat the drums, saying this would create public disorder. However, they kept on with the exercise though in a subdued tone.

The marchers, led by Churamani, had planned to conclude the red badge campaign at the office of the ruling BJP. However, the police prevented them from entering the party office, citing orders.

"The leaders of the Congress did not put up any objection. They welcomed us readily. The same thing happened at the MPP office. However, the objection by the BJP has made it very clear the state government is against the inclusion Meiteis in the ST list," Churamani said.

As announced earlier, the demand committee will launch an intense agitation from October 21, he said.