Home » PM Modi has turned his back on Manipur but if he asks I’m prepared to initiate a truth and reconciliation commission: Ratan Thiyam

PM Modi has turned his back on Manipur but if he asks I’m prepared to initiate a truth and reconciliation commission: Ratan Thiyam

by Rinku Khumukcham
0 comment 3 minutes read

IT News
New Delhi, June 19:

In a powerful and passionate interview, Manipur’s most highly regarded playwright and director has said that if the Prime Minister or Home Minister ask him to initiate a truth and reconciliation process in Manipur he would be prepared to consider doing so. Ratan Thiyam said he is “heartbroken” by the tragedy unfolding in Manipur but cannot believe the anger between the Kuki and the Meitei communities has gone so far and deep that they cannot be reconciled.
In a 30-minute interview to Karan Thapar for The Wire, Mr. Thiyam, who is both a former Chairperson and former Director of the National School of Drama, said he cannot understand the Prime Minister’s silence and the PM’s refusal to talk about Manipur in Sunday’s Mann Ki Baat, though he did find time to speak about the cyclone in Gujarat and even the Emergency, which is 40-years old. Mr. Thiyam said the Prime Minister seems to have turned his back on Manipur just when it needs him the most. The PM either doesn’t understand the gravity of the crisis or doesn’t care. What other conclusion can there be?
Mr. Thiyam said the people of Manipur are asking “Where should I go? What do I do?” These are, he agreed, existentialist questions. They suggest the people of Manipur feel the country – and perhaps the media in particular – has turned its back on them and forgotten about them. As an illustration of his point, he said television news, when it shows the weather, stops at Calcutta, as if there are no Indian states further to the East. A metaphor that perfectly and poignantly illustrates how the rest of India views the Northeast.
Asked whether the time had come for Chief Minister Biren Singh to be dismissed and replaced by President’s Rule, Mr. Thiyam said these are decisions the centre has to take and the fact that it has not suggests they are happy with Biren Singh, despite the deteriorating situation in Manipur. What other explanation can there be, he seemed to ask.
Asked if reconciliation is not possible or doesn’t happen and, therefore, trust cannot be restored between the Kuki and Meitei communities, would he accept the time has come to concede the Kuki demand for a separate administration? To put it differently, if the two communities cannot live happily together, perhaps they might be able to live happily as neighbours? This is when Mr. Thiyam said that he cannot believe the anger and divide has gone so deep that it cannot be resolved.
The main broad points from the interview with Mr. Thiyam. What these do not convey are two things. The depth of his emotion, which is reflected not just in the content of what he says but also in the audible pain in his voice and the visible anguish on his face. The second significant thing these broad points do not convey is the powerful manner in which Mr. Thiyam speaks. He is quite mesmerizing. Truly dramatic, at times like King Lear – that’s only a slight exaggeration.

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