Imphal, Feb 1:
Following Imphal Times’ Wednesday report, “EaseMyTrip Sparks Outrage by Controversially Listing ‘Lamka’ as a City in Manipur Alongside Imphal,” the travel booking giant has taken prompt action. CEO Nishant Pitti confirmed the removal of ‘Lamka’ from the website in direct response to Imphal Times’ tweet, stating unequivocally, “It’s been removed now.”
EaseMyTrip’s egregious misstep was glaringly evident as they audaciously listed Lamka as a city in Manipur on their agent’s page. This decision unfurled amidst the already tumultuous backdrop in Manipur, where Kuki communities passionately advocate for the state’s division, ardently pushing for a separate administration.
However, merely removing the content isn’t enough; the relevant authorities should pursue legal action to uncover the intent and identify the individuals involved in this questionable act. In addition to legal action by the Government, EaseMyTrip must issue an apology to the people of Manipur and undertake appropriate measures against those responsible for this act.
This ill-considered move by EaseMyTrip not only aligns with the fervent efforts of the Kuki community to sway the central government towards granting them a unique administrative status but also adds fuel to an already contentious atmosphere. The resolute determination of the Kuki community to substitute the official district name “Churachandpur” with their preferred designation, “Lamka,” underscores the gravity of EaseMyTrip’s misrepresentation, further exacerbating the sensitive dynamics at play in Manipur.
Despite its removal, Easemytrip.com’s controversial move has kindled widespread anger among the people of Manipur, particularly netizens who express their outrage by sharing damning screenshots of the website. These images lay bare a pop-down menu on Easemytrip.com, unabashedly presenting only Imphal and Lamka as the two cities when selecting Manipur as the state.
Lamka, a term neither an official address nor a recognized city, emerges as a fabricated entity championed by a select few Kuki communities. These communities, fervently advocating for Manipur’s division, actively spearhead efforts to carve out a distinct land and administration. The inclusion of Lamka on the travel booking platform serves as a controversial nod to their divisive agenda, intensifying the discontent and resistance from the Manipuri populace who vehemently reject this attempt to rewrite their regional identity.
In a preceding controversy in July 2023, Air India’s Airport Ticketing Office (ATO) at Imphal International Airport stirred upheaval as it began appearing on e-tickets as ATO, Lamka. This development triggered widespread protests from passengers, notably those belonging to the Meitei community. Local MLA R.K. Imo Singh, holding the additional distinction of being the son-in-law of Chief Minister N. Biren Singh, promptly addressed the situation. Proactively, he composed a letter urgently dispatched to Union Civil Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia, seeking the swift rectification of this apparent error on the e-tickets. Simultaneously, he urged the minister to initiate a thorough investigation to unravel the circumstances leading to the controversial designation of ATO, Lamka on the tickets.
Similarly, it is imperative for the government and lawmakers to conduct a meticulous inquiry into the individuals responsible for incorporating the name “Lamka” into this widely-used travel website. The inclusion of such a contentious name on a popular travel booking portal is not a trifling matter. The government should leverage its resources to identify those involved, instigating a comprehensive inquiry and probe to delve into the circumstances surrounding this controversial listing. This measure is crucial not only to rectify the current situation but also to forestall any potential future misuse or tampering with information on prominent platforms, preserving the integrity of regional identities.