Arambai Tenggol: Who are the Radical Meitei Group?

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Arambai Tenggol: Who are the Radical Meitei Group? Blog Image

What’s in Today’s Article?

  • Why in News?
  • Who are the Arambai Tenggol Group?
  • Why did the Group ‘Summon’ Manipur’s Political Representatives?
  • Major Communities Residing in Manipur
  • What's Behind the Violence in Manipur?

Why in News?

  • Almost all the Meitei MLAs as well as Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha MPs representing valley areas of Manipur were at Kangla Fort of Imphal to meet the leaders of radical Meitei group Arambai Tenggol.
  • The development came after Arambai Tenggol issued “summons” to all the ministers and MLAs belonging to the valley districts.

Who are the Arambai Tenggol Group?

  • According to sources, Arambai Tenggol started in 2020 as a cultural outfit, but soon transformed into a radical organisation.
  • It is one of the two hardline Meitei organisations (the other group is Meitei Leepun) suspected to be involved in a large number of Meitei-Kuki clashes, which broke out in May 2023.
  • Both the organisation had armed themselves and their membership grew rapidly during the conflict.
    • They have been accused by the Kuki groups and the security establishment of playing a leading role in the violence.
  • Arambai Tenggol has also been accused of targeting Naga community members.
    • The organisation was also suspected to be involved in a gunfight with a unit of Assam Rifles just before the Union Home Minister visited Manipur in June 2023.

Why did the Group ‘Summon’ Manipur’s Political Representatives?

  • The meeting was organised to discuss the demands of Arambai Tenggol.
  • The demands included -
    • Delisting of Kukis from the Scheduled Tribes list,
    • Deportation of refugees to camps in Mizoram,
    • Border fencing,
    • Replacement of Assam Rifles with other paramilitary forces and
    • Revoking Suspension of Operations (SoO) agreement between the Centre and Kuki militant groups.
  • Subsequently, Arambai Tenggol leader Korounganba Khuman addressed a large gathering.
    • He claimed that the representatives (including Manipur CM N Biren Singh who was not present) were made to sign a set of demands and told to pressure the Central government to translate them into action.
  • While Arambai Tenggol maintained a shadowy presence at the beginning of the conflict, these developments showcased the strength and legitimacy of the group.

Major Communities Residing in Manipur

  • The State is like a football stadium with the Imphal Valley representing the playfield at the centre and the surrounding hills the galleries.
  • The valley, which comprises about 10% of Manipur’s landmass, is dominated by the non-tribal Meitei. This area yields 40 of the State’s 60 MLAs.
  • The hills comprising 90% of the geographical area are inhabited by more than 35% recognised tribes. This area sends only 20 MLAs to the Assembly.

What's Behind the Violence in Manipur?

  • The recent protests were triggered by the Manipur HC’s direction to the State to pursue a 10-year-old recommendation to grant Scheduled Tribe (ST) status to the non-tribal Meitei community.
  • The Court’s order has brought the historical tensions between the valley-dwelling Meitei community and the state’s hill tribes (like the Kukis) to a boil.

Q1) Why does the Meitei Community of Manipur want ST Status?

The demand for ST status arose from the need to preserve the community, and save the ancestral land, tradition, culture and language of the Meiteis. 

Q2) Why are Tribal groups in Manipur against ST Status for Meiteis?

The tribal groups say the Meiteis have a demographic and political advantage besides being more advanced academically and in other aspects.

Source: Manipur ministers and MLAs meet Arambai Tenggol members: Who are the radical Meitei group? | IE