Cold bucket of water after a hot shower Sound of silence
Definitely a case of a bucket of cold water after a hot shower. The silence was defeaning. This is how the much awaited Assembly session of August 29 ended and far from taking any resolute stand on the future of Manipur and a stand on the ongoing bloody clash between the Meiteis and the Kukis, the one day Assembly session ended with absolutely no agenda taken up, save for the five minute silence for all those killed in the ongoing violence. In the end there was absolutely no need for the Committee on Tribal Unity (CoTU), the Indigenous Tribal Leaders’ Forum (ITLF) and the Kuki Inpi, Manipur to have issued the directive to the ten Kuki MLAs not to attend the Assembly session. The appeal to Governor Anusuiya Uikey to defer the 4th session of the Assembly also came close to a case of barking up the wrong tree. A one day session of no substance and it is this reality which led one wit to comment on the social media whether the honourable Members sat (as understood in the context of Assembly phamba) or stood during the 15 or so minutes of the session. This utter indifference to the tragedy that has besieged Manipur for close to 120 days was clearly reflected in the acts of terror played out by Kuki militants in firing at farmers tilling the soil at Narensana in Bishnupur district even as the non-event Assembly session was on. One dead and at least seven injured in the terror attack launched by the Kuki militants while the Assembly session gave the miss to the present turmoil, is how August 29, 2023 session will be remembered for days to come. In the end, the Assembly session was nothing but a case of inconveniencing the public with the blaring sirens telling all to give the right of way to the honourables while on their way to the Assembly. Unacceptable this was and one wonders whether the reality has really sunk into the consciousness of those occupying seats of power and responsibility or not. This is where one is tempted to look at the other side of the debate, which has been repeatedly telling the story that it is only Central intervention, read as President’s Rule, which can rein in the marauding Kuki militants and their terror activities. This is where one is also left wondering how those who demanded an Assembly session at the top of their voice would respond or react to what passed off as a one day Assembly session on August 29.
Manipur is bleeding. Too many people have died. Many have gone missing and no one knows whether their mortal remains would ever be recovered. Houses have been burnt and razed to the ground. Thousands have been displaced from their homes. Relief centre is the term that has gained currency with everyone and despite this, the Assembly fails to discuss the burning issue. When even the Assembly fails to discuss the issue, convincing the two sides to come together and talk things over sounds too far fetched. More than an example of the political leaders of the day not only failing to address the burning issue, but shying away from discussing it on the floor of the House. When a crisis such as the one gripping Manipur is not discussed in the Assembly, then can one expect the issue to be discussed at any other platform ? Perhaps the Government has the answer, but this answer should be spelt out to the public. The clash is bad enough and Manipur certainly does not need another dose of politicking over the said issue. Where is the honesty and sincerity to discuss the same ? At one point of time it was the silence of the Prime Minister which perturbed everyone and now it is the silence of the Assembly which has come to haunt the collective psyche of the people. The refusal of the Government to discuss something as critical and important as the ethnic clash inside the sanctum sanctorum of the House must have left a bad taste in the mouth of everyone and this is definitely not the understanding of democracy that one is expected to believe in. So what is the way forward ? The Government obviously has no answer and there is no attempt to work out an answer either. This is what has added to the sense of tragedy.