Manipur women form human chain to protest against ethnic violence, seek NRC
Women line the road in Imphal in protest on Saturday night | Pic: Twitter/HS Benjamin Mate

Manipur women form human chain to protest against ethnic violence, seek NRC

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Hundreds of women in several districts of Manipur took to the streets on Saturday night to condemn the violence in the state.

Meitei women holding fire torches formed human chains on the streets in Imphal East, Imphal West, Thoubal and Kakching districts from 7 pm to 8 pm. At Kongba, a Meira Paibi leader Thounaojam Kiran Devi told reporters, “We are very much disappointed with the Centre and the state government for failing to contain the violence and provide security.” They also protested against what they termed as infiltration of illegal immigrants from Myanmar.

Women raised slogans demanding implementation of the National Register of Citizens (NRC). More than 100 people have lost their lives in the ethnic violence between Meitei and Kuki community people in Manipur that broke out a month ago. The state government had imposed a curfew in 11 districts and banned internet services in a bid to stop the spread of rumours.

Also read: Manipur: PM’s silence adds to anger, frustration amid violence, flare-up

Clashes first broke out on May 3 after a Tribal Solidarity March was organised in the hill districts to protest against the Meitei community’s demand for Scheduled Tribe (ST) status. Meiteis account for about 53 per cent of Manipur’s population and live mostly in the Imphal Valley. Tribals – Nagas and Kukis – constitute another 40 per cent of the population and reside in the hill districts.

ITLF’s Twitter account withheld

Meanwhile, the Twitter account of the prominent tribal leaders’ group that has been spearheading the agitation in Manipur against the Biren Singh-led BJP government, Indigenous Tribal Leaders Forum (ITLF), has been “withheld”.

Dubbing it as a “shocking act of censorship”, the statement released by ITLF said its handle has been blocked in response to a legal demand. “The ITLF Media Cell Twitter account, vital for raising awareness about Kuki-Zo tribal communities in Manipur, has been blocked in India. Despite tirelessly working towards addressing their challenges, this censorship is yet another attempt to stifle marginalised voices,” the statement said.

ITLF said it amounts to a violation of Article 19 of the Indian Constitution, which talks about the freedom of speech and expression, as well as the United Nation treaty of 1948 on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. ITLF alleged that the blocking of its Twitter handle will lead to severely limiting and hampering the ability of the tribal communities to report from the ground about daily attacks.

In the wake of fresh violence in the state, the Manipur government has also extended the ongoing ban on internet services for another five days. The government had imposed the internet shutdown for the first time on May 3 when the ethnic violence first erupted in the state.

No ‘Manipur Ki Baat’

Opposition leaders on Sunday attacked Prime Minister Narendra Modi for not speaking on the ongoing violence in Manipur during his latest ‘Mann ki Baat’ episode.

Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge tweeted, “Your ‘Mann Ki Baat’ should have first included ‘Manipur Ki Baat’, but in vain. The situation in the border state is precarious and deeply disturbing. You have not spoken a word. You have not chaired a single meeting. You have yet not met an all-party delegation. Looks like your govt does not consider Manipur as a part of India. This is unacceptable.”

Also watch: BJP has failed to contain violence in Manipur; why’s Modi mum on this?

Congress general secretary Jairam Ramesh said the prime minister patted himself on the back for India’s “great capabilities in disaster management”, but remained silent on “entirely man-made” humanitarian disaster confronting Manipur. “So one more Mann ki Baat but Maun on Manipur. The PM patted himself on the back for India’s great capabilities in disaster management. What about the entirely man-made (actually self-inflicted) humanitarian disaster that is confronting Manipur. Still no appeal for peace from him,” Ramesh said in a tweet. Similarly, Trinamool Congress MP Mahua Moitra tweeted, “Enough Mann Ki Baat now is time for some Manipur ki Baat. Honourable PM @narendramodi ji.”

At least 115 people have been killed and another 40,000 displaced since violence between the tribal Kukis, who mostly reside in the hill districts, and the Meiteis, the dominant community in Imphal Valley, broke out last month.

(With agency inputs)

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