Imphal, Dec 20
A group of concerned citizens of Manipur came together at Iroishemba and staged a peaceful protest against amended Citizenship Act (CAA) and to show solidarity to the people of Assam, Tripura and other northeast states. The protest had artistes, film makers, and people from different walks of life. People protested with songs and placards.
Singer Akhu Chingabam’s song “Lainingthou lairenbi gi manairensa, kumsi di army yam lakkani hairiye,” inspired the protesters at Iroishemba. Later, the crowd moved to Khwairamband Ema Keithel and marched, holding placards and chanting slogans. Police stopped them on the way and made them stay on the roadside. The protestors continued to sing protest songs.
Some of the protestors expressed their views on why the protest and what made them take this step. One protestor said, “We are here to protest against CAA with no affiliation to any organization. Everyone has come out on their individual capacity.”
She said, “As a Manipuri, we are with the people of the north eastern states. At the end of the day CAA is going to affect us all, we should be aware of this.”
Another protestor, also an artist said, “The need for this protest is due to the silence of the government and agreeing to whatever the central government said. Not only this, the government has celebrated the implementation of ILP with ‘thabal chongba’ and CM threatening people to arrest anyone that try to protest, trying to gag the voice of people.” He added, “The state is also creating fear psychosis by threatening people to not protest, even to not say anything on social media. Even R.K. Echanthoibi has been arrested. A friend of mine has been threatened by a local BJP worker.”
One of the protestors said, “This is a peaceful protest to show solidarity with the people of our neighbouring states and show respect to the lives lost. It is to send out the message that people of Manipur opposes CAA. There is also a sense of fear, but I want to ask what to be scared of. No one can put you in jail for participating in such protest. The state’s instruction to arrest any protestor has instilled fear amongst the people, but we do not need to be fearful of this.” He shared his opinion on the impact of ILP, “ILP is not going to protect us. The settlers might get citizenship from other states where CAB is applicable and they will further come to northeast even with the ILP. We need to foresee that those settling on our land can have a huge impact on our economy.” “The reason people have come out voluntarily is to protect our indigeneity and show solidarity with other northeast states. It will be shameful if we are silent in this crucial time.”
A Manipuri Rongmei lady, who joined the protestors said, “I am here to protest CAA because I was concerned with whatever is happening in the country and was pissed that no organization in Manipur is doing anything about it.” When asked about the need for this voluntary action, she said, “Personally, I feel individuals should actually come out because the CSOs and student organizations have been biased towards certain communities in most of the protests, but this time, it is personal.”
Regarding the slow momentum of the protest, she believed, “Because a lot of people voted for this government, so, I think, they believe the government and are unaware of the whole situation. Another huge factor is the state violence. We also care about our jobs, career, and family, so, we cannot blame the people also completely.”
While covering the protest in Khwairamband Keithel, one Imphal Times’ journalist was physically obstructed from filming the event by a police personal.
The police tried to arrest Sarangthem Manjit former student leader who joined the protest at Khwairamband Keithel, Imphal. As he was pulled up by two armed police personnel, social activist Kh. Monika dared the bayonet of the security personnel and snatched him from the claws of the security personnels.
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