May 3, 2023 to May 3, 2024 What is the way forward

May 3, 2023 to May 3, 2024. 365 days. 12 Months. One year. Over 200 on either side of the clash divide killed. Over 30 people missing. Thousands still surviving in relief centres set up all over the State. Houses dismantled and levelled to the ground. Parachute journalists dropping in and penning down fed reports, adorned with their flowery description of the tale of human tragedy and in the process present a totally concocted narrative. Pen pushers painting the two sides as Good and Bad in their lofty commentaries. War of words in the social media, notably on X or Twitter as it was earlier known. A silent Prime Minister whose silence is now equated with indifference. And the clash continues with no sign that things will improve anytime in the coming days. This is Manipur from May 3, 2023 to May 3, 2024 and one can expect spin doctors to spell out the year gone by with tales so concocted that it suits their narratives and their targeted audience coupled with what they think are remedial steps to heal the wounds, with the steps spelt out being influenced by the false narratives that have done the round. Looking back it should be clear that the Kuki-Zos had everything planned and worked out to the T in so far as managing the media is concerned and this is the primary reason why a new understanding of false narratives has emerged. Still not very clear whether Manipur has learnt a lesson or two from the past one year, but it is still important to note that even as the people and the place gear up to observe the completion of one year of the clash, there are at least 6/7 voluntary organisations which have announced their intention to observe the day all under different themes and headlines. On the other hand, in Kangpokpi the Kuki-Zos are set to observe the day under the overall aegis of the Committee on Tribal Unity (CoTU) while in Churachandpur it is most likely to be held under the Indigenous Tribal Leaders’ Forum (ITLF). One can get a glimpse of the different approaches to the issue at hand and one is left wondering why the Meiteis need to observe the same thing, the same day separately under different organisations. The Sangai Express will not comment on the merit or demerit of the day being observed separately but this is too significant a point to miss. So what could possibly be the way forward ? No simple answer here but this is a question which must be right there up on the agenda of the State Government. Or will it be a case of waiting for the Lok Sabha elections to get over, wait for Government formation at Delhi and see how to take things forward ? But isn’t the line ‘wait and see how to take things forward with Delhi’ the same thing that Manipur has been fed with these past 365 days ?
Looking back, one cannot help but wonder why the Tribal Solidarity March under the aegis of the All Tribal Students’ Union, Manipur was allowed to be held in the first place. Chief Minister N Biren did admit later that there was intelligence failure on the said day, but one wonders why the days preceding May 3, 2023 were not seriously taken into account. Why were participants armed to the teeth allowed to be part of the marchers ? What happened to the much tom tommed police force when the rallyists turned violent and marched all the way to Torbung to target Meitei houses ? Protesting the Government’s policies and pro- grammes is a given but why were Meitei settlements attacked giving the protest a totally communal colour ? Why did the Tribal Solidarity March turn violent only at Churachandpur and quickly spread to Kangpokpi and Moreh while it ended peacefully at the Naga dominated districts of Senapati, Tamenglong and Ukhrul ? Doesn’t this fact give a lie to the claim that the Tribal Solidarity March was organised against the directive of the High Court of Manipur to the State Government to send  the needed report to the Centre to consider the demand that the Meiteis be included in the Scheduled Tribe category of the Constitution of India ? These are questions which ITLF and CoTU have steered away from answering and no coherent answer is expected from them. One year of violence, mayhem and bloodletting and one wonders how long the clash will continue and how long the Prime Minister will remain mum.