Sharmishtha Mukherjee has shared excerpts from her new book "Pranab My Father".
Meitei ethnic clash that has been going unabated since the 3rd of May earlier this year seems to have shifted from Manipur to the National Capital reduced to a one sided slanging match between Rahul Gandhi of the Congress and a muted silence from Prime Minister Narendra Modi.The latest jibe from the heir apparent of the Congress Party came a few days back when he said that the All Political Parties Meeting being called by Home Minister Amit Shah in the Capital to discuss the Manipur issue was “too little and too late” and that efforts to bring the two warring groups to the discussion table will prove fruitless if they are done in Delhi.He continued that the all pary meet will be fruitless as it is being held at a time when the Prime Minister is not in the country.”Manipur has been burning for the last 50 days but the Prime Minister has remained silent.An all-party meeting was called when the Prime Minister himself is not in the Country .Clearly this meeting is not important for the Prime Minister” Rahul had tweeted.
Congress General Secretary K C Venugopal also said that the entire Nation expects a serious intervention from the Union Government and that at least a Prime Ministerial level meeting should have been called in Manipur itself.Any effort for peace must take place in Manipur where the warring communities are brought on the discussion table and a political solution is arrived at.This effort will lack seriousness if it is done sitting in Delhi .He also said that the Centre has only woken and called for the all-party meeting after Sonia Gandhi’s address to the people of Manipur.The Congress Parliamentary Party Chairperson had earlier issued an appeal for peace in violent hit Manipur adding that it had left a deep scar on the Nation’s Conscience .In a video message released earlier in the last week she had said that “It is heartbreaking to witness our brothers and sisters who have co-existed peacefully turn against each other”.She also said that the history of Manipur stands testament to its ability to embrace people of all ethnicities religions and background and the myriad possibilities of a diverse society.
On the other side in New Delhi on the eve of the all-political party meeting being called by the Union Home Minister Amit Shah to discuss the situation in Manipur ,sources from Delhi have indicated that Imposition of Presidents’ Rule in Manipur is not on the cards in the meeting scheduled for the 24th of June 2023 in New Delhi.The meeting is slated to take place in the Parliament Library .The sources said that amidst the growing demand of the Opposition Parties to impose Presidents” Rule in the BJP ruled Manipur was not on the table.a BJP source active in the BJP had told media that “what the Government does is for it to decide .But as a Party we are not in favour of President’s Rule in Manipur at least not in the immediate future.Peace talks are going on .We are hopeful of a positive outcome”.In the meantime the Congress Party has decided to depute former Manipur Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh to represent the Congress party in the Amit Shah’s conclave.
Back on the front the Manipur Police have claimed that a total of 1,095 firearms out of the nearly 4000 weapons looted/taken away/gifted from various Police stations and the Manipur Police Training Academy and 13,702 ammunition and 250 bombs have been recovered so far.However an irate 2000 strong women force laid siege at the gates of the Manipur Police Training Academy at Pangei in Imphal East District and prevented a team of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) from proceeding inside the Academy to check the records of the weapons originally in stock and the numbers missing.The CBI had to beat a hasty retreat back to the Heignang Police Station where they have set up a temporary field office.Earlier at Lilong 29 women sustained injuries when Assam Rifles personnel were confronted by hundreds of women who were protesting against the arrest of three Meitei Village Volunteers by them.The women were subjected to blows from rifle butts but the women militia were able to free the three youths from the Assam Rifles.
Also on the 23rd June evening an irate mob burnt down the private godown of Public Health Engineering Department (PHED) Minister L.Sushindro Singh aka Yaima .The incident was triggered off when the Minister was returning to Imphal with two women earlier apprehended by womenfolk on suspicion that although being Meiteis they were acting as informers for the Kuki militants.The Ministers’ convoy was stopped at Chingarel Tezpur in Imphal East by the women militia who demanded the two suspected women informers be handed over to them.The Minister being irritated drew his personal pistol and opened blank fire to disperse the crowd. However a woman was injured in the process when an ejected shell casing from his pistol hit her in the eye.The women militia further agitated by the Minister’s action turned their attention to a private godown he owns in the area and set it ablazed.Over Rs.100 Croes worth of hard plastic water pipes of the PHED stored inside the Godown were said to have been destroyed in the inferno.
On the battle zone front the Kuki militants have gone one step up from using conventional weapons like sniper and automatic rifles and taking a cue out of the Middle East terrorism tactics have started deploying car bombs.Earlier this week Kuki militants had placed an SUV car packed with explosives on a double culvert serving as a bridge on the Imphal Churachandpur road and detonated it remotely.The xplosions not only destroyed the culverts but also injured three Meitei Pangaks (Manipuri Muslims) residents of Kwakta village.The Muslim bodies across the State have not taken too kindly to this happening and have taken it as an act of aggression and have warned of dire consequences.Earlier the Kukis had earned the wrath of the Nagas when they burnt down a house belonging toa Liangmei Naga in Leimakhong along with foutr other houses belonging to the Meiteis. This time also various Naga bodies made an outright condemnation of the act and again warned of dire consequences.The Naga response is critical for the Kukis had fought with the Nagas in 1992-93 and had lost nearly 1000 lives in the conflict while the Nagas loss was around 400 .But it was following this conflict that massive influx of Kukis from across Myanmar entered into Manipur and began their Poppy plantations.The Kuki National Army which was originally fighting for a Kuki State in Myanmar were imported into Manipur by Manipuri Kuki Politicians in the name of countering the attacks of the Nagas.And some 30 years down the line over one lakh of them had made Manipur their permanent home and have raised demands for a separate homeland by attacking the Meiteis.According to R.K.Meghen former Chairman of the United National Liberation Front (UNLF) and now working as a social worker there are at least 1600 unauthorised Kuki villages in Manipur.
And as an interlude to the sordid drama of killings and burnings happening in Manipur a Meitei man who styled himself as a BJP Karyakarta or a BJP Worker came and destroyed the modem and other instruments used by the media to utilize the services of the internet which is otherwise banned in Manipur and after warning the staff and hurling abuses at the media persons present there for writing crtitical comments on Chief Minister Biren Singh began wrecking the I nstruments he had also physically assaulted two media persons one belonging to a national tv news channel and another a lady staff member of a web based news portal of Manipur.The All Manipur Working Journalists Union (AMJWU) and the Editors Guild of Manipur condemned the act.And both Chief Minister Biren Singh and the BBJP Head Office were quick to condemn the act and denied any link with Meitram Sanatomba aka Sana Meitram the ‘BJP’ man who went on the rampage.he was soon picked up by the Imphal City Police and have since been sent to jail till the first week of July.
Meantime the message for restoring normalcy in Manipur has reached the United States of America..On the 23rd of June over 100 Manipuris had gathered at the Washington Monument in Washington D.C under the aeigis of the Association of Meiteis in the Americas (AMA) to coincide with PM Modis’s USA visit had urged him to accelerate the Peace Process in Manipur.On the Internet front the net services in the State remains suspended inspite a directive of the High Court to the State Government to provide at least limited net service to the people of the State..In this regard representatives of four net service providers had submitted their affidavits to the High Court and had met the Chief Secretary of the Government of Manipur.They discussed about the possibilities of the service providers providing service to the public without the social media network but added that the public can easily install Visual Private Network (VPN) which is easily available in the market. The alternative they suggested was to provide network to select individuals in every constituency .
But all eyes are on in New Delhi awaiting for the oiutcome of the Amit Shah’s meeting.If not President’s Rule by keeping the Assembly under animated suspension which will embarrass the BJP nationally the State being under a BJP Government then perhaps a change in the Leadership of the present State government is warranted at any cost according to a political commentator .Perhaps if Biren Singh is replaced as the Chief Minister then perhaps the Kukis will be willing to talk he added.