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From the archive: Manipuri govt. questions the validity of Bishnupriyas

Aug 2, 1999 2:27 pm

Manipuri govt. questions the validity of Bishnupriyas as a

This is nothing but racism !
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Inclusion of Bishnupriyas in OBC list Manipur Govt moves Supreme Court

NEW DELHI, Aug 1 — Threatened by the recognition of Bishnupriya Manipuris as Other Backward Classes (OBCs) by States of Assam and Tripura and an order of Gauhati High Court, the Manipur Government has moved the Supreme Court detailing the differences between the Bishnupriyas and Manipuris, reports PTI.

The Manipur Government has challenged the decision of the High Court to include Bishnupriya Manipuris in the State list of OBCs saying the Court has given the direction without going into the question whether such a community existed at all.

The petitioner said the decision of the States of Assam and Tripura allowing prefixing or suffixing of the word 'Manipuri' with Bishnupriyas would create a confusion and pose danger to the distinct identity of Manipuri language and the culture of their community. 

It said the Meiteis were of Mongoloid origin and their language Manipuri was of Kuki-Chin group belonging to Tibeto-Burmese family. However, Bishnupriyas were of Aryan origin and had settled in Assam and Tripura after migrating to the north-eastern region, the petitioner said.

While some experts believe that they came from the Chittagong Hill Tracts (now Bengladesh), others believe they came from Rangapatras area in Assam, the Government said in its petition moved through advocate Kh Nobin Singh. The petitioner said, however, the experts were unanimous that “linguistically, historically, ethnically and culturally, the Manipuris are quite different and distinct from the community called Bishnupriya, the former belonging to Mongoloid stock while the latter to Aryan.”

“The recognition of the Bishnupriya community and the language spoken by them by the States of Assam and Tripura as 'Manipuri Bishnupriya' or 'Bishnupriya Manipuri' at the instigation of Bishnupriya community is nothing but infringement of the fundamental rights of the Manipuri community guaranteed under Article 29 of the Constitution as it creates confusion in the distinct identity of the Manipuri language and culture of their community,” the petitioner said. It said the State of Assam had in its 1975 notification on OBCs had included Manipuris clarifying “Manipuri including Manipuri Brahmin and Manipuri Muslim.”

The petitioner said even in the 1991 census, Manipuris and Bishnupriyas continued to be shown as different languages but in 1996 the Assam Government issued a corrigendum notifying that “Manipuri including Bishnupriya Manipuri, Manipuri Brahmin and Manipuri Muslims.”

When this was challenged in the High Court, the latter said it was ill-equipped to decide the dispute which required a study into the origin, history and culture of the two communities but directed inclusion of Bishnupriya Manipuris in the list of OBCs. 

http://www.assamtribune.com/aug0299/ne.html [Link doesn't work]
Indian Express http://www.expressindia.com/ie/daily/19990802/ige02078.html 

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Center for Justice and Peace in South Asia -
An advocacy group for Indigenous and Minority Rights

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