Thursday, 9 June 2011

From the archive: ‘Manipuri’ stays with Bishnupriya

Friday, March 10, 2006
SANTANU GHOSH

Silchar, March 9: In a landmark judgment yesterday, the Supreme Court has recognised Bishnupriya Manipuri language as a separate entity in the family of Indo-Aryan languages.

A two-bench division of the apex court, comprising Justice Ruma Paul and Justice Dalbir Bhandari, also made it clear that there was nothing wrong if Bishnupriyas continued to use the term ‘Manipuri’ either as a prefix or a suffix to the nomenclature of the Bishnupriyas.

With this verdict, the Supreme Court endorsed Gauhati High Court’s judgment, delivered on April 9, 1999, approving the inclusion of Bishnupriya Manipuri linguistic community in the list of the other backward communities (OBC) in Assam.

The case came to the Supreme Court after the Manipur government and one K. Kumardhan Singh challenged the Gauhati High Court’s verdict, in a bid to assert the identity of the Meiteis as the only Manipuri population. They objected to the use of the term ‘Manipuri’ along with Bishnupriya.

Describing this verdict as “historic”, Debendra Chandra Singh, president of Nikhil Bishnupriya Manipuri Mahasabha, the apex body of the five-lakh Bishnupriya Manipuri people in Assam and Tripura, today said it has now put an end to the controversy surrounding the identity of the Bishnupriyas.

The Bishnupriya Manipuri community, which had organised protests since 1955 under the aegis of the mahasabha demanding recognition of their language in Assam, won an important victory when the Assam government in 1999 accepted the Bishnupriya Manipuri language as one of the vernacular languages in primary and middle school stages in the state.

Courtesy: The Telegraph
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