Tributes in the valley, shutdown in the hills Highlight the common future


Paying tributes to the June 18 martyrs at Imphal while a shutdown was on in the hill areas of Manipur. Resentment against the ‘continuous suppression, subjugation and discrimination by the communal Government of Manipur’ is cited as the immediate reason for imposing the 24 hours total shutdown from midnight of June 17 to midnight of June 18, but given the importance attached to June 18 down the years, there is every reason to suspect that there may have been something left unsaid. Left unsaid but which should not be difficult to grasp by any observer. This is how Manipur has been existing as a geo-political reality for decades. Many in the media will still remember how Imphal burnt on June 18, 2001 and for days after that against the decision of Delhi and the NSCN (IM) to insert the clause ‘without territorial limits’ in the ceasefire agreement. This was on June 14, 2001 which later came to be known as the Bangkok Declaration. The clause was rolled back after Imphal burnt and 18 people had laid down their lives. And since then, June 18 has been observed religiously every year. So while June 18 is observed annually and religiously as the Great June Uprising, Unity Day in Imphal and the valley area, the NSCN (IM) and the different social organisations of the Naga people have been at the forefront demanding the integration of all Naga inhabited areas under one administrative unit. It is against this backdrop that June 18 passed off in two diametrically opposing ways this year.
Things do not look good for the immediate future. Apart from the diametrically opposing stands on the question of the State’s territorial integrity, the bodies of the nine people killed in the protest against the three Bills passed on August 31 last year are still lying in state. On the other hand there is nothing to indicate that the demand to implement the Inner Line Permit System or a similar mechanism to check the inflow of non-local people into Manipur will be relaxed. More stormy days can therefore be expected. Not good for the future by any stretch of the imagination. Contrasting stands and this has certainly put a big and critical question mark on Manipur as a political reality. The divide is there for all to see and experience but the most unfortunate part is the absence of any sincere effort to bridge the divide and see how people can relate to each other and see how differences can be ironed out without confronting each other. Time to start viewing each other as human beings whose future cannot be divested from each other. Whatever it is, the truth stands that the future of all the people here are intrinsically linked.


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