TODAY -

Statement of Thadou Students' Association on Manipur Crisis
- 30th August 2023 -

*



1. The four-month-old and continuing ethnic conflict between Meitei and Zo communities in the state of Manipur has been closely monitored and observed by leaders of Thadou Students' Association (TSA) ever since the conflict erupted on May 3 and are seriously perturbed by how the Thadous in Manipur have been severely affected. Even as we are engaged in relief work, we have not issued a public statement on the current crisis until now for the sake of 'Zo' tribal unity within the community. However, the unfolding situation has compelled us to make this joint public statement to express our grave concerns and position on the current crisis, which has caused untold miseries, sufferings and the devastating socioeconomic impacts on all victims.

2. We condemn in the strongest term all incidents and all forms of violence on all innocent victims and share the pain and grief, including the latest incident in the adjoining areas of Bishnupur and Churachandpur districts on August 29 where two people were killed and seven injured after a period of no direct confrontation between the two conflicting communities.

We also condemn the burning down of TSA registered office at Haokip Veng, Palace Compound, Mahaballi Road in Imphal on May 4, and the life threats and arson attack on the home of TSAGHQ’s Secretary General, Michael Lamjathang Haokip, at Peniel village in Lamka (Churachandpur) by some heavily-armed miscreants on the night of May 7, 2023.

All people of Manipur and India should be ashamed that many incidents of the most horrible, inhumane and gruesome violence and crimes have taken place in Manipur in this conflict - the tens of thousands of people displaced, thousands of homes burnt down or destroyed, hundreds of churches and places of worship burnt down or destroyed, about 200 people killed and many injured, and incidents of sexual assault of women and burning alive of women and children.

Attacks on the remaining properties in mostly-Thadou dominated tribal settlements in Imphal, including New Lambulane, Checkon, Old Lambulane on Jail Road, Langol, National Games Village, Canan Veng, Mantripukhri areas etc. must be immediately controlled by security forces and Meitei CSOs. Responsible Meitei CSOs must rein in Meitei mobs or miscreants from carrying out further attacks in these and other tribal areas.

3. The Coordinating Committee on Manipur Integrity (COCOMI), highly regarded body of the Meitei civil society organisations, committed to protect the integrity of the state, have repeatedly issued statements on narco-terrorists and illegal immigrants. COCOMI should clarify and explicitly expound as to whom they refer to by narco-terrorists and illegal immigrants.

It must be noted that Manipur government has already set up a cabinet subcommittee to identify and monitor people who crossed the Myanmar border to take refuge in Manipur due to the military coup in Myanmar. Those refugees have been sheltered in government-run-and-monitored camps in the border town, Moreh until they can safely return to their homes.

COCOMI is expected to be more sensitive and cautious in this matter and refrain from issuing sensitive statements that can be viewed as targeting indigenous tribal communities of Manipur, including the Thadou tribe, who have stood up to protect the state throughout history.

Moreover, repeated statements from some so-called Meitei socio-cultural organisations, spewing venoms on some indigenous communities of Manipur, is harming the social fabric of the state. All must remember that Manipur is a multi-ethnic society and home to multi-cultural communities but not limited to the majority Meitei, Meitei Pangal and the 33 scheduled tribes of Manipur, including Thadou and kindred tribes such as Aimol, Vaiphei, Paite, Simte, Gangte, Kom, Hmar, Mizo etc.

Thadous, the largest tribe of Manipur duly recognised by India and Manipur governments in 1956 simultaneously with all other existing indigenous tribes of the state, are not afraid of the much-hyped National Register of Citizens (NRC), which has been strongly demanded by the Meiteis and the Nagas.

We are not opposed to NRC as long as it is guaranteed to be done fairly to include all Indian citizens in Manipur, without targeting or being biased against any particular community. Concerned groups must be taken into confidence before the exercise is taken up for free, fair and successful implementation.

4. The declaration of 7th April as the State Level “Hun - Thadou Cultural Festival” by the Manipur government from this year as state’s Restricted Holiday and its grand celebration on April 18 and 19, 2023, at Kangpokpi endorse and reaffirm the indigeneity, nativity, and citizenship of the Thadou tribe in Manipur. The esteemed presence of various guests in the festival, including the Hon’ble Governor of Manipur, the Chief Minister and his Council of Ministers, MLAs, and the Union Tribal Affairs Minister, Govt. of India, was another testament to the indigenousness of Thadou tribe in Manipur.

The repeated special mention of the great warrior Pu Khotinthang Sitlhou (Jampipa/Chief of Jampi, Tamenglong) by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi ji and Union Home Minister Shri Amit Shah ji during their recent visits to the state on various occasions is a significant acknowledgement at the highest level of the Thadou people’s contribution to India’s freedom struggle and that they are undeniably true citizens of India and indigenous people of Manipur. It may be mentioned that Pu Khotinthang was the great leader of Indian Thadou freedom fighters in The Thadou Gaal (War), 1917-1919.

It is also to be noted that Manipur is home to most of the Thadous since time immemorial, but there are also Thadou population in other parts of the country and around the world, and they are citizens or legal residents in their respective places of residence. The same is true with Meitei or any other community of Manipur, who live in other places as well. There should never be an issue.

5. In the midst of the ongoing Manipur crisis, Thadous are not part of any of the anti-India protest or political demonstrations within the country or in some foreign countries, rather we support peaceful solidarity gathering or assemblies aimed to bring and restore normalcy in the state. We share the concerns about the tragic situation in Manipur and appreciate the sympathy shown by like-minded people from within and across the world.

6. Thadou people remain one of the most affected and vulnerable victim communities in this conflict, given the geographical location of our settlements in the adjoining areas of the hills and the valley and being sandwiched between the Meiteis and the Nagas. Despite countless attacks on many innocent Thadous and their villages, Thadous have not reacted offensively but safeguarding our villages and residences as we seek justice and peace through non-violence.

So far, the support received by the Thadous is very limited, relying merely on contributions extended by charities. The government must be more pro-active in its efforts to protect civilians and its dealing with the crisis and do more to enhance and accelerate relief and rehabilitation works to meet the needs of all the affected people.

7. The visit of Shri Amit Shah, the Union Home Minister, to the strife-torn state for three nights and four days was an unprecedented event in the history of free India, and it was highly appreciated and welcomed by all, including the conflicting parties and stakeholders. Despite Manipur being an ethnically sensitive state where conflict resolution is always challenging, the Government of India made a genuine attempt to restore normalcy in the state. However, despite all efforts by the Union Home Minister, violence did not stop.

We felt that it would have been better if leaders and members of both warring groups had seized the opportunity to bring an amicable solution to the current crisis. It is unfortunate that everyone has been involved in accusing each other of starting the violence.

8. Many instances of biased, one-sided or inaccurate or unconfirmed reporting and extremely explosive contents that are inflammatory in nature have been found on different media platforms, pitting one community against another. This has contributed to the lingering violence and flare ups.

Therefore, all media groups should take every care in their reporting and maintain their reliability and accountability while discharging their duties with utmost responsibility as the fourth pillar of democracy in this sensitive and volatile situation. They should play a wider role in bridging the gap between the two communities and help in building up trust that has been lost during the crisis.

9. The safety and security of innocent and civilian populations must be the priority of both the Central and State governments. Sincere efforts should be put in to recover the looted arms from various armouries of the state security forces in the valley areas, which are reportedly used to attack areas inhabited by the Thadous and other kindred tribes of Manipur.

10. It is undeniably a challenging task to resolve the opposing demands of the conflicting parties. However, we would like to make an urgent appeal to all to end the violence and hatred, come together with an open mind to resolve the conflict and end the crisis without any further delay.

In this regard both the Central and State governments must devise a concrete roadmap for bringing immediate and permanent solutions with the confidence and participation of all the stakeholders.

President, TSA Delhi & NCR (NCT)
President, TSA Bengaluru (Karnataka)
President, TSA Dima Hasao (Assam)
President, TSA Guwahati (Assam)
President, TSA Haflong (Assam)
President, TSA Harangajao (Assam)
President, TSA Hyderabad (Telangana)
President, TSA Mahur (Assam)
President, TSA Karbi Anglong (Assam)
President, TSA Mizoram


* This info was provided by Thadou Students' Association who can be contacted at tsaghq(AT)gmail(DOT)com
This article was posted on August 31 2023 .



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