TODAY -

Targeting FOCS and ITLF
- The People's Chronicle Editorial :: March 20, 2024 -



The unfortunate incident of lobbing a bomb at the residence of president of Federation of Civil Societies (FOCS) Th Manihar in Imphal and vandalising office of Indigenous Tribal Leaders' Forum (ITLF) in Churachandpur may be two separate occurrences that coincidently happened on the same night of March 18.

But there is usually one common thread of trust deficit in the leadership that weaves through such unwanted incidents of violence and intimidation that could have been avoided altogether.

Being one of the organisations which has been at the forefront of advancing the cause of Meitei/Meetei in the ongoing ethnic conflict with the Kuki-Chin, the bomb threat by "unidentified miscreants" at the Kongba Kshetri Leikai residence of its president has been understandably condemned vehemently not only by FOCS and 13 allied organisations but also by many others including jiribam-based civil societies.

Denouncing it as an act of cowardice, these organisations/civil society bodies have urged all concerned to clarify the motive behind the bomb threat and made it clear that misunderstanding or grievance, if any, could be sorted out through dialogue.

Similarly, as one the spearheads of the Kuki-Chin's demand for a separate administration that gained momentum after the ethnic conflict broke out on May 3 last year, ITLF has issued a strongly worded statement condemning not only the "vandalization and destruction of its office by a group of cowardly armed individuals" but also the alleged attempt to murder its spokesperson Ginza Vualzong by opening fire at his D Phailien residence on the intervening night of March 17 and 18.

ITLF has also categorically stated that "this act of uncivilised and perhaps fatal violence towards members of one's own community in the centre of our town is unacceptable" and it "will not tolerate the heinous act and won't stop until the alleged offenders come out and settle with ITLF as soon as possible".

It would be rather easy and convenient for anyone to dismiss the two violent incidents that took place nearly 40 miles apart as simply offshoots of the now nearly 11 months long ethnic conflict between the Meitei/Meetei and Kuki-Chin communities, which has caused untold miseries to people of all communities living in Manipur.

Of course, these are two separate incidents that occurred on either side of the clash divide and the perpetrators are from one's own community.

This is the first instance in the ongoing ethnic conflict wherein the two warring communities could not put the blame on each other.

These are crises of their own making and brought upon themselves by those at the helms of affairs.

How the leaders of Federation of Civil Societies (FOCS) and its 13 allied organisations had caused confusion among the people over the announcement of calling a general strike arbitrarily recently is well known.

It may be well-intentioned and have a valid reason, but the timing of calling the general strike was not just right, thus, compelling to short cut the duration from 48 hours to 24 hours.

And, this was not the first time in which the leaderships of FOCS and its allied organisations had committed the faux pas of hastily making some important announcement only to retract soon after.

On the other hand, it may need no elaboration on why the office of the ITLF in Churachandupur has become the target of vandalism and the house of its spokesperson fired upon, howsoever unacceptable it may be.

Not happy with conduct of ITLF and its chief functionaries, tension among the tribal communities belonging to Kuki-Chin group has been brewing for quite some time now.

So, ransacking of the ITLF's office, which took place a day after dissatisfied villager volunteers left bunkers and returned to their respective homes does not come as a surprise.

To cut a long story short, as leaders of any organisation working for the cause of the people, none should take the people for granted.

To do so would be at their own peril.

This holds true for leaders of all political parties and elected representatives as well, for leadership is not about securing a position of power but a privilege given to serve the people with sincerity and dedication.



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