TODAY -

Possible different take on glorifying Manipuri warriors
- The People's Chronicle Editorial :: October 20, 2021 -



WHILE acknowledgement of the valour and sacrifices of both known and unknown Manipuri forefathers who resisted the British rule is long due, Union home minister Amit Shah renaming Mount Harriet in Andaman and Nicobar Islands as Mount Manipur on October 16 in honour of the martyrs has the potential of being interpretated from different perspectives by different stakeholders.

For instance, to the ruling BJP, dedication of the historical hillock to the Manipuri warriors would be akin to election elixir and give it the bragging right to assert that central leaders understand public sentiment while for the opposition parties Amit Shah's gesture would be seen as a merely election gimmick but wouldn't dare to say so due to apprehension over public backlash for purported undermining of sacrifices made by the Manipuri soldiers.

However, to those civil society organisations and outlawed outfits respectively advocating restoration of the pre-merger status of Manipur and waging war against the establishment, the Union home minister's endorsement that Manipur had a significant contribution in resisting the British rule in the entire northeast during the 1857 Revolution and also in 1891 might be construed as legitimisation of the on-going movement to live independently.

While the demand or movement for sovereignty of Manipur is certain to be crushed even to the extent of using India's military might, the evolving development consequent to renaming of Mount Harriet as Mount Manipur should be shocking to those trying to distort and rewrite the history of Manipur vis-a-vis its glorious past as a thriving kingdom in southeast Asia.

Interestingly, Amit Shah stated during inauguration and laying of foundations for various projects in Andaman and Nicobar Islands that Manipur never gave up, people continued to fight and had its own constitution.

To the non-governmental organisations, such a statement from the Union home minister would definitely be treasured as the government of India's acceptance that there is a reason for the decades old insurgency movement in the state.

Whether or not it has anything to do with the endorsement by Amit Shah that Manipur had been a kingdom, Coalition for Indigenes Right Campaign (CIRCA) has boldly stated that various issues and problems besieging the state are compelling the people to believe that taking up arms is the only way to survive assumes significance.

CIRCA is one of the organisations commemorating Manipur National Day on October 18 every year to refresh all concerned that Manipur was the first among the South East Asian nations to hold a democratic election and conduct its own assembly.

Through observance of Manipur National Day by CIRCA and Manipur Republic Day by Committee of Civil Societies Kangleipak (CCSK), another organisation bitter against loss of Manipur's independent status, both have been trying to drive home the point to the establishment that Manipur was never a part of India and had established its first democratically elected government after attaining independence from the British on October 18 in 1948.

Thus, similar to Amit Shah acknowledging that the British rulers were wrong to perceive that by hanging Manipuri forefathers and imprisoning others they had crushed the freedom movement, the Union government shouldn't commit the blunder of believing that insurgency movement in the northeast region has been suppressed through signing of peace pacts or holding negotiations with a handful of armed organisations.

Rather, the Union government should make consistent efforts to bring the rebels to the negotiating table and iron out the differences in the same spirit and sincerity of honouring the Manipuri forefathers by dedicating Mount Harriet to effectively negate possible perception among the detractors that christening Mount Manipur has more to do with the upcoming elections while deriding the history of Manipur.



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