The unrelenting ethnic violence in Manipur, which has been going on for more than a month and has resulted in at least 100 deaths, hundreds of injuries, and tens of thousands of internal displacements, has been brought to the attention of Prime Minister Narendra Modi by more than 550 civil society organisations, retired bureaucrats and police officers, activists, lawyers, filmmakers, journalists, academics, and writers. They have now joined forces to issue a public statement asking him to speak out.
Manoj Kumar Jha, a Rajya Sabha member, two former IPS officers, a retired civil servant, and numerous members of the People’s Union for Civil Liberties, Human Rights Forum, People’s Union for Democratic Rights, and other groups representing farmers, labourers, workers, and women’s rights are among the signatories to the statement.
The Friday statement demanded that the PM “take accountability” for the existing condition of affairs in the condition and end his silence regarding the ongoing ethnic war in Manipur. “The BJP and its governments at the federal and state levels have engaged in divisive politics, which in large part is to blame for the current fires in Manipur. And it is up to them to put an end to this civil conflict now, before more people die,” the statement read.
The group continued by claiming that radical Meitei organisations like Arambai Tenggol and Meitei Leepun were using dehumanising language in this conflict against the tribal Kuki-Zomi people, which was derived from language promoted by senior BJP leaders like Amit Shah and Assam CM Himanta Biswa Sarma.
“Typical of its strategy used throughout the nation, the BJP is once more escalating long-standing ethnic tensions between groups for political advantage. It is just expanding the abyss of historical tensions between them while pretending to be an ally to both populations, the statement continued, without making any effort to date to foster a dialogue towards resolution.
Additionally, in order to “establish facts, and prepare the ground for justice and healing of the gaping wound that separates communities of Manipur to mitigate the divisiveness and hatred being engineered” the activists and civil society organisations requested a court-monitored investigation.
In addition, they demanded that arrangements be made for the relief and rehabilitation of all those harmed by the violence as well as the establishment of a fast-track court for all cases of sexual violence against women committed during the ongoing conflict.
“This return, rehabilitation, and compensation process should be overseen by a panel of retired judges who know the region closely, perhaps appointed by the High Court or Supreme Court,” the statement added.
“As we demand an immediate end to this ongoing cycle of violence, there is a need for independent, non-partisan members of civil society to visit the survivors and the bereaved as soon as the violence stops; attempt to verify reports of killings and rapes; and offer solidarity and all possible support to those traumatised by the loss of loved ones, homes, and churches,” the civil society groups continued.