TODAY -

April 19, 2024: The blackest day of all
- The People's Chronicle Editorial :: April 20, 2024 -



LIKE any human civilisation around the world, the tiny northeastern Indian state of Manipur had its own share of dark phases in its long and chequered history.

Apart from frequent clashes among different "Salais" or principalities in the ancient time for political supremacy and consolidation of power, which is said to have continued till all were amalgamated into the Ningthouja, the ruling dynasty, sometime in 1432; historians normally describe the period from 1819 to 1826 during which Burmese invaders occupied Manipur as a dark period.

The extent of devastation caused by the invading Burmese and the resultant chaos and anarchy experienced everywhere was such that historians have given the sobriquet of "Chahi Taret Khuntakpa" which literally means, "seven years' devastation," when they talk or write about this historical phase.

In the modern historical annals, the forced merger of Manipur to the Indian Dominion after long years under British colonial rule from 1891 to 1947 is being argued as another dark phase in the history of the erstwhile independent princely state.

The fact that Manipur was undergoing transformation from being a monarchy to a modern state with a democratically elected government already in place when ex-Maharaja of Manipur Bodhchandra Singh was forced to sign on the Merger Agreement on September 21, 1949 in Shillong after keeping him under house arrest has caused much disappointment till today among a large section of the people, who are making it a point to observe September 21 every year as the Black Day or 'Manipur Gi Ningtamba Mangkhiba Numit'.

In addition to this, various outlawed underground organisations, which are fighting for self-determination and restoration of the lost sovereignty of Manipur, have been calling bandh or shutdown every year on October 15, the day on which the controversial merger agreement was made effective in 1949 with scant regard for the resolution adopted by the then Manipur State Legislative Assembly rejecting the merger agreement outrightly.

However, all these dark phases or periods in the history of Manipur are going to be pale in comparison when we harken back to this day, April 19, 2024, from now onwards.

The wide spread violence and the kind of brute force used by both unknown and known armed miscreants without any restraint or fear of reprisal not just to intimidate the people but also to deprive them of their constitutional right to exercise adult franchise during the election conducted for electing a representative to the 18th Lok Sabha from the Inner Manipur Parliamentary Constituency is going to make April 19, 2024 to go down in the history of Manipur as the darkest day of all.

What the people of Manipur and also all around the world had witnessed on April 19, 2024 looked exactly like what the leader of a political party in the opposition had called "the murder of democracy".

The fact that the armed miscreants were running amok and threatening everyone who acted against their diktat of voting in favour of the candidate fielded by the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has made it all the more despicable.

It is a grave mistake on the part of the ruling party to think that it could win the election by using brute force.

Democracy is all about public participation in governance through their elected representatives and fulfilling the public aspirations in turn by the elected representatives.

So, depriving the public of their constitutional rights to elect a representative of their choice is nothing but autocracy, which we had thought now belongs to a bygone era.

If the BJP, as a true political party, and its candidate, as a true human being, still have some self-respect and dignity with them, they should stand up to uphold the democratic principle of conducting free and fair election and initiate themselves for ordering repoll in all the polling stations where their gun-wielding and over-enthusiastic supporters have made democracy not just a mockery but also a complete farce on April 19, 2024.

Otherwise, more than the people of Manipur, who'have been subjected to untold suffering owing to an unresolved ethnic crisis that has been going for nearly a year now, history is not going to forgive them regardless of whatever little good things they may have done in their political career or in personal life.



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