Torbung on May 3 : Where it all started Recalling the genesis
The Sangai Express has been consistent in its stand. There should be no confusion over this. The first match stick that was struck and which set Manipur on fire in the evening of May 3 was at Torbung. The ingeniously named Indigenous Tribal Leaders’ Forum (ITLF), the Committee on Tribal Unity (CoTU), the Kuki Inpi Manipur (KIM) and the All Tribal Students’ Union, Manipur have always side stepped the question of why participants of the Tribal Solidarity March marched all the way to Torbung from Churachandpur in the first place. Situated a good 12 kilometres away from Churachandpur district headquarters, where was the need for the muscle flexing participants of the rally to march 12 kilometres ? Moreover how did elements, armed to the teeth with sophisticated weapons, become the rallying point of the rallyists in their march towards Torbung on May 3 ? Why have no answers to these posers ever come from any of the ‘well intentioned’ Kuki leaders and scholars who have earned their place under the Sun during the ongoing clash ? That the situation at Churachandpur was not good at all is something known to all-the arsons, the setting on fire the very place which the Chief Minister was scheduled to inaugurate, the setting on fire the office of the Forest Department, the dawn to dusk bandh or restrictions imposed by the ITLF etc-but to the people of Imphal all these instances were seen and understood as a group of people expressing their angst and stand against the policy of the State Government. Tension leading to May 3 was high, but that tension was understood and seen as a stand off between the Kukis and the State Government and not between the Kukis and the Meiteis. Then why were the Meiteis targeted and their houses set aflame at Torbung and at Waikhurok ? Only ITLF, CoTU and KIM can answer this. Add ATSUM to this list too, for it was under their aegis that the so call Tribal Solidarity March was held. May 3, 2023 : How it all started at Torbung was the screaming headline used by The Sangai Express while telling the story of how the clash started. The affidavits filed by the Meiteis of Churachandpur with the Manipur Human Rights Commission falls neatly into the factual narrative which has been held by this paper since the evening of May 3 and this should be the start of the narrative to understand the present clash, which is nearing the five months mark.
May 3, 2023 : How it all started at Torbung is the first of a series of stories which The Sangai Express has lined up. As announced, more stories on the Meitei localities which have been levelled to the ground at Churachandpur town will hit the front page of this newspaper in the coming days. The stories are meant to set the record straight and get the inside story at Churachandpur, according to the testimonies filed by the Meiteis who managed to flee the town in the evening of May 3 and later. A stark reminder that most, if not all, of the media houses from other parts of the country and which had sent their represen- tatives to Churachandpur had overlooked to run a detailed story on the mayhem and destruction caused to the Meitei settlements there while running the stories that have been skilfully peddled by those on the other side of the clash divide. Hopefully such stories should help get a grasp of the reality and counter the false narrative that has been peddled to the outside world. It should also help in neutralising the victim card that has been played with so much aplomb while painting the valley districts as the villain of the piece. Slowly and gradually the real picture from Churachandpur, the place which engineered the current clash, is beginning to emerge and one hopes more such stories also come out from Moreh and Kangpokpi. On the other hand, it should be kept in mind that recalling the genesis of the clash should not be any reason to see another round of fresh clash, but is just a sincere attempt to bring the right narrative to the people. The Government should also answer why the Tribal Solidarity March was allowed to be held in the first place, for tension was already high at Churachandpur.