Manipur: ‘We Feel Your Pain,’ say Farmers, Workers in Nationwide Solidarity Protest
New Delhi: Thousands of workers, farmers, teachers, students and agricultural workers came out on streets on Tuesday to express their solidarity with people of Manipur in a nationwide protest called by Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU), All India Agricultural Workers Union (AIAWU) and All India Kisan Sabha. The protests were observed in Manipur, Haryana, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand and Madhya Pradesh.
Vikram Singh, joint secretary, AIAWU told NewsClick that night protest marches are scheduled in Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.
Talking to NewsClick over phone, Singh said there may have been historical fault lines between the majority Meitei and tribal Kuki communities but it has turned into a communal one, thanks to the role played by ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) -led state and Union governments. He said that the conflict was allowed to proliferate because the Centre chose to remain a mute spectator to the violence, which escalated from May 3.
“Had it dealt with the issue with some sensitivity inside and outside the court, the lives and harmony among people could have been saved. People were repeatedly appealing for Central forces. PM Modi did not utter a single word about it,” Singh said, adding that “we called this all-India protest specifically to say that the people in Manipur are not alone. We are also clear that it’s a political fight in which BJP must be defeated if we are to save the country from this authoritarianism. We demand Manipur Police should arrest all the culprits in the matter.”
Singh said the government was even running away to discuss the precarious situation in Manipur in Parliament, adding that it’s a “tried and tested formula to suspend MPs for one session to deviate attention from issue.”
Echoing similar sentiments, A R Sindhu, secretary, CITU, told NewsClick that daily life in Manipur has been badly hit where crisis looms large on the livelihoods of the people. “It’s a state- sponsored violence where people are feeling insecure even in their homes. Schools and colleges are shut. There is no big industry and farming is too is in the small sector. How can people live peacefully in this situation”? she said.
The CITU leader said the “Manipur conflict is on ethnic lines now. But, soon, caste and communal tussles may emerge. Thus, workers unity is deeply linked with the integrity of the country and our fight against neoliberalism is integrated with fight against authoritarianism.”
TUs Protest at Jantar Mantar, Delhi
Workers holding placards with slogans like ‘Restore normalcy in Manipur’ held a solidarity protest at Jantar Mantar in the national capital on Tuesday. Representative of 10 central trade unions said that State’s role in the entire sequence of events was complicit and that was the key reason for the civil strife continuing unabated.
“The government machinery has totally failed in bringing back normalcy to the state,” said the trade unions. They demanded restoration of normalcy, relief and rehabilitation of the distressed people and the victims at the earliest, as also reopening of schools and restoration of internet services in Manipur.
Protests were observed in Ranchi, East Singhbhum and other districts of Jharkhand where protesters burnt the effigy of PM Narendra Modi and raised slogans like ‘Inquilab Zindabad’ and ‘Down Down Modi Government’.
Suphal Mahato, who was leading the protests in Bundu block said it was shocking that adivasi women were paraded naked and raped. “Is it not any irony that the soldiers who fought for country cannot save their women. Lumpen elements have torn the Constitution of India. This not acceptable,” he said.
Farmers in Haryana came out on highways to express their anguish. Inderjit Singh, vice president, AIKS, who was visiting flood-affected areas in Sirsa, an also participated in the protest told NewsClick that there was deep anguish among people, especially women.
“People in this part of the country were ignorant about North East. However, they are now actively following developments there and hold Manipur Chief Minister Biren Singh and his government culpable. They also hold (Prime Minister) Modi responsible because he tried to distract the issue by naming Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh when people were asking for answers on Manipur.”
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