I am writing to you in response to your article “What is the trouble and who is the trouble maker in Manipur?”
At the outset I would like to express my anguish at the criminal violence that has taken toll of so many innocent lives in the state.
The article published in the MEL has clarified two or three important points on which a lot of mis-information is deliberately created by the ruling class and the media that serves it. The first point that has been raised is that what is happening in Manipur is not a riot because it is not spontaneous. The violence has been planned and engineered to take place this way. This violence is otherwise inexplicable because Meiteis and Kukis have been living in peace for decades. They are distinct collectives but they have not been at war with each other; other ethnic groups have also lived in Manipur for generations. In such a context, it is not explicable that they suddenly become warring enemies.
Secondly, deliberate misinformation has been created about this or that incident – like in the example of the events of 3rd May pointed out by your article. Killings have not been carried out by ordinary civilians but by armed gangs. And who has armed these gangs? It is a well-known fact that since the 1950s successive governments have had been arming various groups in a deliberate attempt to stoke provocations. This is nothing but state terrorism.
Throughout this whole period of violence, I have read many cases of Kukis and Meiteis sacrificing their own lives to help out the other community, saving them, and keeping peace in their neighbourhood. There are so many reports of such friendship and unity that challenges the official and much repeated lies that Kukis and Meiteis are rioting and killing each other!
Thirdly, like the article points out – how come such “rioting” can take place under the very eyes of the army which has special powers to act, under the Armed Forces Special Powers Act? In recent weeks, armed gangs have been seen roaming with impunity under the very nose of the army! This act has always been used against the people and not in the interest of the people of north east. In fact, the people of Manipur have in the past, time and again, come out demanding the withdrawal of AFSPA in their state.
All this adds up to the conclusion that this trouble in Manipur has been organised by the Indian state. What is happening in Manipur, is the outcome of the divide and rule strategy of the Indian ruling class. It is the power that can organise such violence; it is the power that benefits from dividing the people. The state is vested in keeping the people divided so that they do not take up their grievances unitedly but instead blame each other for their problems.
Cessation of violence and peace will require that the people of Manipur unite across all communities and tribes and demand an end to all armed occupation. In the long run, it will require the fundamental transformation of the political system that will vest sovereignty in the people.
Urvashi, New Delhi