By Our Staff Reporter
IMPHAL, Jun 18: The collective pledge to protect the integrity of Manipur and the sanctity of its territorial boundary has been once again reaffirmed today as the 18th Great June Uprising, Unity Day was observed at Kekrupat here.
Offering of floral tributes to the martyrs of June 18, 2001 and a public convention were the main features of the commemorative function.
The commemorative function was opened with religious rites and rituals which was followed by offering of general salute by Thang-Ta artistes.
Just as thousands of people paid floral tributes at the memorial tombs of the martyrs, a public convention was held at the adjoining ground simultaneously.
Lamps were lit on the memorial tombs in the evening.
The 18th Great June Uprising, Unity Day 2019 observation committee chairman Ph Deban, vice-chairman Sunil Karam, delegates and community leaders from Manipur, Assam, Tripura and Myanmar attended the convention as presidium members.
Speaking at the convention, Kuki Inpi Manipur president Khaimang Chongloi said that every one is aware why the Great June Uprising, Unity Day is observed every year.
This event commemorates the mass civil movement waged against NSCN-IM’s secessionist movement and injustice meted out to a large number of people by the rebel outfit, Khaimang Chongloi said.
The recent claim of Nagaland based Naga Hoho that 80 per cent of Manipur’s territory belong to Nagas ought to be condemned in the strongest terms by all the people of Manipur, he asserted.
Any organised based in other States has no right to speak on behalf of Manipur or interfere in its affairs, said the Kuki Inpi president while calling upon all the people to stand united against such undue interference and provocation.
The Framework Agreement signed between Government of India and NSCN-IM and the Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB) 2016 are two burning issues which demand all the people of Manipur to be very watchful.
It is matter of grave concern that political leaders of the State are engaged in a power struggle at such a critical juncture, Khaimang decried.
Sunil Karam said that the historic event of June 18, 2001 was a direct consequence of the Government of India’s divisive policies.
Commemorating this historic event and remembering the 18 martyrs have many implications.
The historic civil movement demonstrated before the whole world, particularly the Government of India that Manipuri people will do anything and even sacrifice their lives to protect the State’s integrity and the sanctity of its territorial boundary, Sunil Karam said.
He then asked the Government of India if it needs any more memoranda, mass rallies and martyrdom to safeguard the integrity of Manipur, its territorial boundary and its indigenous people.
Many memoranda have been sent and huge public rallies were held in 1997, 2000, 2014 and 2018.
Now it is time for the people of Manipur to take a final decision and fight the Government of India’s divide and rule policy conclusively instead of taking to streets every now and then to safeguard the integrity of Manipur and the sanctity of its territorial boundary, Sunil said.
The most crucial prerequisite for such collective struggle is unity among the people of Manipur. If there is no unity in this age of globalisation, all the indigenous people will be wiped out by external forces, he cautioned.
Each ethnic group needs to sacrifice a little of ethnic interests and focus more on harmonious co-existence and protection of the common homeland, he asserted.
Ph Deban said that Manipur was threatened and challenged by external forces at different points of time in history and the event of June 18, 2001 was a collective response of the people of Manipur to one such challenge.
Manipuri people lost the pride and dignity of being free people when British empire took Manipur under their control.
Just two years after Manipur regain independence from British empire, Manipur was merged into the Indian Union on October 15, 1949, Deban said.
Knowing well that Manipuri people cherish freedom more than anything else, the Government of India implemented a divide and rule policy in the State from the very beginning.
The Government of India got a perfect opportunity to pursue its divide and rule policy comfortably when it signed a ceasefire agreement with NSCN-IM on August 1, 1997.
On August 4, 1997, a mammoth public rally was held at Imphal sending a clear message to the whole world that any threat to the integrity of Manipur and the sanctity of its territorial boundary would not be tolerated.
A similar mass rally was held in 2000 too and the Manipur Legislative Assembly started adopting resolutions to safeguard the integrity of Manipur, Deban recalled.
However, the Government of India, by totally ignoring all these, signed the Bangkok Declaration on June 14, 2001 whereby the ceasefire agreement between the two entities was extended without territorial limits. This led to the historic event of June 18, 2001.
Faced with vehement and unrelenting oppositions, the Government of India removed the words ‘without territorial limits’ from the Bangkok Declaration on July 27 same year, Deban said.
Yet, Manipur is still facing threats and challenges. The observation committee firmly believes that no force will dare challenge the integrity of Manipur if all the 36 ethnic groups of the State are united, he asserted.
Kekrupat which forms a part of the historic Kangla is now a sacred place but many people have rightly pointed out that the memorial site is abandoned throughout the year except during the month of June when it is mopped and cleaned for the commemorative function.
But there are certain limitations as the area is under the control of Kangla Fort Board, said the observation committee chairman.
He also expressed keen desire to develop the memorial as a landmark memorial complex.
Apart from planting 1000 tree saplings around the memorial site, the site is being inspected every Saturday, he claimed.
UCM consultative committee members RK Ranendrajit, H Ibotombi Khuman, AMUCO advisor NC Khuman, Zeliangrong Union (AMN) president Amu Kamei, Kom Union Manipur president L Kaikam Kom, Koireng Youth Organisation president Romeo Zaite, Haomi Research Guild Manipur chairman Robin Shinglai Tangkhul, Aimol Tribe Union president RT Akhel Aimol, Manipur Muslim Welfare Organisation president Abdullah Phundreimayum, Purum Cultural Troupes & Literature Community president Momsokam Bapui, CCSK president Jitendra Ningomba, HERICOUN secretary general Yengkhom Surjit, LIPUL president, LIPUL president Somorendro Thokchom, AMKIL president Ph Sakhi, Poirei Leimarol president L Memchoubi and Kanglamei president Y Leirik Leima too spoke at the public meeting.
Hamom Tanubabu from Bangladesh, S Bimol from Tripura, Myint Moe Rekha from Myanmar and M Shantibabu from Assam were also seated on the dais as presidium members.