Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Tuesday condemned the BJP for its divisive politics after some saffron party leaders in Sandeshkhali called a Sikh police officer a Khalistani.
When violence broke out in Manipur in May this year between the Meitei and Kuki communities, West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee had sent a delegation of her MPs, MLAs and Ministers to visit the affected areas in order to try to gauge the magnitude of people’s distress and to offer assistance. Her message condemning the violence on women regardless of which community they belonged to especially had evidently had a powerful impact on the Manipuri women.
Because even six months later, the Manipuri women are talking about just how much Didi’s support meant to them. “In Manipur, cutting across community divides, we women love Mamata Banerjee,” Ninglun Hangal tells The Statesman in an interview. “Her courage inspires us and she is a role model.”
Hangal is a Kuki and she was in Churachandpur, 64 kilometers from capital city Imphal, attending her sister’s wedding when reports of the bloody ethnic clashes reached them. She and her family fled to Guwahati taking clandestine routes. Her husband was in Imphal and for days they were separated by the violence which resulted in blocked roads and travel restrictions.
Though eventually they met up in Assam, they have not yet been able to return to their home in Manipur. “The hatred is still simmering,” says Hangal, who herself however, refuses to see the Meiteis as enemies. “There are certain individuals who incite the violence but most of us do not hate each other. On the contrary we like to live harmoniously together and in peace.” Hangal says that she noticed how Mamata did not differentiate between the communities when she expressed concern and she says she “really appreciates” this. “I think this is the sign of a leader and I think she is the only one who is can provide the alternative leadership.”
Since being displaced, Hangal has been in transit a number of times and currently she is in Kolkata. We know that the government of West Bengal was very concerned about the Manipur issue and we are grateful for that,” says Hangal. Indeed, there were meetings and public protests and voices were raised in Parliament demanding that the issue be addressed adequately. Rajya Sabha members Derek O’Brien and Dola Sen were especially vocal. Clearly the people of Manipur have not forgotten. “No they have not,” smiles Hangal. “Especially the women.”