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Celebrating Republic Day while Manipur Spirals into Violence

by Rinku Khumukcham
0 comment 4 minutes read
Celebrating Republic Day while Manipur Spirals into Violence

It has been over eight and a half months, and the violence continues. Reports of armed Kuki militants attacking and killing unarmed Meitei villagers occur almost every other day. Since the beginning of 2024, there have been reports of at least 9 civilian villagers being killed by armed Kuki militants while they were out collecting firewood and working in the fields, bringing the death toll to over 200. There are reports coming of Kuki militants attacking Meitei villagers as recently as this morning in the area between Imphal West and the Kangpokpi district. Thousands of people are living as refugees in their own land. Many children and students are unable to receive education. People across the state are feeling the impact of the bloody conflict that began on May 3, 2023. Despite this, the government of Manipur joined the nation in celebrating the 75th Republic Day.
While it may be the national duty of all state governments and Union territories to celebrate Republic Day, it is irrelevant to celebrate when the so-called Republic is failing and the rights of the citizens of this state have been severely violated due to government incompetence. This may be the reason why many organizations, including the six student bodies and PPCM, are choosing to stay away from the celebration.
For quite some time, various armed insurgent groups operating in the region have been boycotting the Republic Day celebration, calling for a total shutdown and asking people to remain indoors. However, in recent years, there have been some changes. Common people have started coming out to join the celebration despite the boycott called by various groups. Perhaps this is because people have started to believe that Manipur is an integral part of the Indian nation.
In 2015, a Manipuri girl from the Indian Army unfurled the national tricolour flag in the national capital on that significant day for India as many sons of the soil have also given their lives to protect the nation. Two soldiers from the state even were martyred while fighting Pakistani soldiers in the Kargil War. But today, the situation is different. While protecting the nation, the fate of Manipur is at risk. The former nation-state that merged with the Indian Union is on the verge of extinction.
The alleged illegal merger of Manipur with the Indian Union on October 15, 1949, after the controversial signing of the merger agreement between Maharajah Bodhachandra and the representatives of the Indian Union on September 21 of the same year in Shillong, is the root cause of all the chaos in present-day Manipur. Before the merger, Manipur was the second nation-state in Southeast Asia to have its own government elected by the people. Union Home Minister Amit Shah has stated that Manipur had its own constitution before India had one. Manipur went from being a Part C state to a Union Territory and finally became a state in 1972. When Manipur became a part of India, no provisions were made to protect the political identity of the state. However, a clause under Article 371C has created a division among the people. As a former nation that was the second to have a democratic government after the Philippines, India should be proud to have Manipur as part of its territory. There should have been a provision in the constitution to protect the geographical and political identity of Manipur. The country’s academic curriculum should include a special chapter on the history of Manipur. Manipur can be a source of pride for India.
What we need now is the attention of every guardian of the country’s constituency to the problems faced by the state. It is time for constitutional experts to consider the legitimacy of the Suspension of Operations with the 25 Kuki militant groups who were once village guards.
A wrong is a wrong, and a right is always right. What is wrong with correcting the wrongs? India is now emerging as a superpower, and it is not unreasonable to speculate about possible external interference that could disrupt the country’s unity. The only way to strengthen the ties of the country’s unity is through a proper clarification of past actions. It is a fact that people in the state believe that the merger of Manipur with the Indian Union was illegal, as stated in a resolution adopted by a people’s convention held at GM Hall Imphal in 1993.

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Imphal Times is a daily English newspaper published in Imphal and is registered with Registrar of the Newspapers for India with Regd. No MANENG/2013/51092


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