Time to set right the narrative Revisiting the source

Minority versus majority. This is the narrative that has been woven around the ethnic clash that broke out in all its ugliness in the evening of May 3 and making the ‘fairy tale’ all that more attention grabbing is the attempt to reduce it to a Hindu-Christian clash. It is also not a tribal-Meitei clash by any stretch of the imagination. Other than this it should also be made clear that the Scheduled Tribe for the Meiteis demand is not central to the clash and the continuing stand off between the two said communities. Here ‘credit’ must be given to the All Tribal Students’ Union, Manipur for tactfully weaving the ST demand into the narrative to rope in the support of all the existing ST communities of Manipur and the most unfortunate part is many seem to be falling hook, line and sinker to this carefully crafted game plan. The ST for Meiteis demand was just an addendum to the Tribal Solidarity Rally of May 3, 2023 and this is where questions ought to be raised on why the rally passed off peacefully in the Naga dominated districts of Ukhrul, Senapati, Tamenglong etc but was not the case at Churachandpur, the place from where the clash originated. Surprising that such a question has not been raised in the public forum or by any of the highly intelligent, no holds barred anchors in their talk shows on the television channels. The missing link in the narrative that is unfolding across the country is palpable. To understand the Tribal Solidarity Rally of May 3, one will definitely need to go back to the month of April and further back. On April 27 an open gym scheduled to be inaugurated by Chief Minister N Biren the next day, that is on April 28, was ransacked and set ablaze by an agitated mob. A total shutdown in Churachandpur followed on April 28 called by the Indigenous Tribal Leaders’ Forum (ITLF). In the early part of March, when the print media was off print for the five days Yaoshang break, a massive rally was organised in the Kuki dominated districts of Kangpokpi and Churachandpur against the eviction of alleged new settlements inside a Protected Forest. This in brief was the background against which the Tribal Solidarity Rally was organised and ‘credit’ for the way in which the ST for Meiteis demand was deftly woven into the fabric of the rally should go to ATSUM.
This is the reason why questions were earlier raised on why the rally was allowed to be held in the first place. Moreover how the did rallyists or such a huge crowd of people came outside Churachandpur town and went all the way up to Torbung which covers a distance of 11 kilometres ? This question is important for here lies the spark that ignited the clash and which soon spread to Kangpokpi, Moreh and Imphal, leaving in its wake a trail of destruction and deaths. Why were gun wielding  elements allowed to be part of the Tribal Solidarity March at Churachandpur ? Even today, that is after 17 days of the spark at Torbung, the issue is yet to be resolved with reports of confrontations at the foothills coming in. Top this off with the recent announcement by the Security Advisor to the State Government that a number of cadres under the SoO pact were not found in the designated camps and arms and ammos missing in two such camps.  It is against these reports and reality that the vocal demand to abrogate the SoO pact should be seen and appreciated. Amid the call to abrogate the SoO pact, the conspiracy theories doing the round, reports of goods laden trucks being stuck on the Imphal-Dimapur highway, the long queues in front of fuel outlets, the silence of Delhi is deafening. Apart from rushing in Central security personnel and reports that Union Home Minister Amit Shah is keeping a tab on the developments here, the silence of the Prime Minister has been deafening. Silence certainly cannot be the better part of valour here.