Manipur is burning for more than two months now. Since November 1, a blockade called in by the United Naga Council (UNC) was countered by the Meiteis in the state leading to a situation of total paralysis. We know how any such news from Kashmir would have been handled by the mainstream media. So the media’s ham-handed treatment of the ongoing conflict in Manipur is both surprising and disturbing.
The government has sent in almost 4000 paramilitary personnel to the state to bring an end to the violence. And the violence due to the ethnic strife is devastating. Buses have been burnt and people have been butchered; even policemen have been killed.
It started with the formation of seven new districts in Manipur. The UNC alleges that the new districts have divided the Naga population. They accuse the state government of playing vote bank politics. The Meiteis, another ethnic group of the state, opposes the UNC and anyone demanding the formation of Nagalim, or Greater Nagaland.
Consequentially, the two ethnic groups clashed resulting in the civil war situation in Manipur.
But while the media – and, partly, the Centre – continues to treat the turmoil as a normal business in Manipur, a student wrote a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeking his immediate intervention to end the strife once and for all.
Ronaldo Laishram is a Computer Science student at the Sri Jayachamarajendra College of Engineering, Mysuru. An aspiring astrophysicist, he has also interned at ISRO.
He opens his letter stating that he is a “big supporter” of Prime Minister Modi’s vision of a developed India and, therefore, seeks peace and prosperity in his home state. He then outlines the problem:
“Rightly say, we are not developing at all. Look our communication lines, transportation, and other services, they are very far behind compared with other states. There might be many reasons, but I can say the main reason is that Central government doesn’t take care of our state properly and state government fail to represent common citizen in many ways and didn’t perform their duties.”
Commenting on the ongoing violence, Laishram comments:
“People are killed like mosquitoes every now and then. And it is a clueless hunt for the law and order keepers to book and punish the criminals.”
“The economic blockade has not only caused a shortage but also children are being deprived of education as they can’t go to schools due to non-availability of fuel.”
He underlines the fact that the mainstream media is not talking about the violence the way they should:
“Surprisingly, what is intriguing is the fact Central government keeps mum on this matter and the national media — both print and electronic, without any exception have purposefully blackout this burning issue engulfing Manipur.”
In 2015, the Centre had entered into a historic peace deal with NSCN-IM, one of the two principal factions demanding a Greater Nagaland. Laishram draws our attention to the suspicions of the people:
“People would like to know if there are any plot between government, NSCN-IM and UNC to disrupt the harmony between the people of Manipur and creating the chaos to destroy the state….If the India government give freedom to NSCN-IM, it will destroy the social and cultural fabric of the state of Manipur and also of Assam and Arunachal Pradesh and will create a chaos and invite civil war.”
“Whatever might be in any case, the Article 3 of Indian Constitution regarding alteration of state boundaries shall not apply in respect of Manipur to protect the 2000-year-old territorial integrity of Manipur.”
Seeking an audience with the PM, Laishram laments the lack of leadership in his home state. As can be seen from the situation in Manipur, CM Okram Ibobi Singh of the Congress has totally failed.
“The sad part is that we do not have a leader like you here in Manipur. We do not have the bold leader who can stand up and speak out about such grievances that are continually faced by the people.”
In his open letter, Laishram reiterates that Manipur is an integral part of India and should be treated as such. He has demanded that the PM finds a permanent solution to the violence emanating from the ethnic strife which often leaves his state paralysed for months.