Manipur: ATSUM hits back at HAC, demands clarification on statement 
ATSUM | file image Credit: EastMojo image

Imphal: The All Tribal Students’ Union Manipur (ATSUM) on Friday has sought an explanation from Union Home Minister Amit Shah on alleged mistreatment of tribal leaders by forcing them to remove their shoes when they went to meet him at his residence in New Delhi.

While demanding an apology from the home minister, the tribal student body also expressed shock and disappointment over the statements made by Manipur Chief Minister N Biren Singh and Minister Th Biswajit Singh.

“We are extremely perturbed by the chief minister’s statement defending the insult meted out to our tribal political leaders by Union Home Minister Amit Shah during their recent visit to him. Such an undemocratic Brahminical practice was a shocking disgrace that completely negates the principles of equality enshrined in our Constitution,” said ATSUM.

The Union home minister ought to explain and apologise to the tribal population of our state for mistreating our representatives in that manner, ATSUM said.

On Thursday, during the debate on the Motion of Thanks on the President’s address, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi had said a delegation of leaders from Manipur were asked to remove their shoes at the home minister’s residence while he himself was found wearing footwear.

His remarks evoked a sharp response from BJP leaders of Manipur, including CM Biren Singh and minister Biswajit.

The Manipur CM took to Twitter on Thursday and said, “It’s an age old tradition in Manipuri culture to remove our shoes while we enter somebody’s house. Those lapdogs spreading it to be some form of insult are oblivious to Manipuri culture.”

“For a person who admires #ITALY will never understand India’s Culture! Dear #RahulGandhi STOP Misleading the Nation! Spare Manipur & try your techniques somewhere else! With every such steps you are inching closer to #CongressMukhtManipur,” tweeted minister Biswajit.

However, their statements defending the home minister was not received well by the tribal student body, which said instead of demanding justice for such an undignified discriminative conduct, they (CM Biren Singh and minister Biswajit) defended the same by even embracing the discrimination as “our collective culture”.

“It is an embarrassment to learn that all our respected Meitei political leaders willfully practice this caste-based behavior towards the Union ministers in Delhi. We the tribals of Manipur do not practice any such discrimination among ourselves or towards others and, hence, this discrimination to our representatives is not acceptable to us,” stated the student body.

We condemn the Union Home minister’s discriminating conduct and the deliberate false justification of the chief minister and the irrelevant defense of minister Biswajit, it added.

ATSUM further alleged that the chief minister has repeatedly betrayed the interest of the tribals in the state.

According to ATSUM statement, even after vehemently refusing to table the HAC recommended ADC Bill 2021 illegally, the tribal student body had trusted the N Biren Singh-led government and signed an agreement on November 25, and had temporarily suspended the agitation after an agreement between the two parties.

However, the state government’s assurance that the ADC Bill 2021 will be introduced by the government in the upcoming Winter Session, 2021, was not honoured despite repeated reminders, alleged the ATSUM.

It further alleged that the BJP-led government in Manipur has deliberately betrayed the tribals repeatedly and displayed its “anti-tribal position” which, according to ATSUM, is increasing their sense of insecurity within the BJP-led state government.

While reminding the chief minister to uphold the tribal interest as equal citizens of the state, ATSUM said they condemned such anti-tribal outburst.

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