The cathartic effect

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The recent coming together of different student bodies of both the hill and valley is indeed welcome and it heralds happy days for the troubled state of Manipur where community relations are at an all time low. Student bodies which formerly use to bark at each other at every available opportunity are sitting together in the wake of a threat common to all. The recent violence against the Northeast students more particularly of Manipur in Maharastra and individual cases of threats and intimidation in Bangalore combined with a hate campaign unleashed through mobile SMSs and MMSs sparked off an exodus of NE students and working people from Maharastra and Bangalore. The Northeast bound trains are choked with students and working people and the Railways had to press into service special trains for the NE exodus, while the rates of flight tickets have soared. The Guwahati railway station and bus stations had become a virtual nightmare for home bound travellers. Today, we shall not talk about whether the government response is adequate or not. What we are more concerned with is on the quality response of our youth and various student bodies. The United Naga Council (UNC) had earlier proposed a 96 hour bandh on the demand for ‘alternative arrangement’, which was called off in view of the invitation for tripartite talks in New Delhi, as they say. Yet the timing is perfect and convenient too, considering the exodus. Scores of valley based organisations had been making appeals to UNC for calling off the bandh in view of the exodus. And it seems the preparations for enforcing the bandh transformed into helplines for the state boys and girls returning home with whatever baggage they could grab in a hurry. The warm welcome that was extended to the weary home bound students and other travellers at Mao Gate and along the highway would have given a sigh of relief to them. The feeling of insecurity that had haunted them in the journey must have gone away suddenly by that gesture. And we must say, God bless the student volunteers at Mao Gate. Another positive response is the unprecedented gathering of student bodies cutting across community lines to deal with the problems arising out of the exodus. Representatives of AMSU, MSF, DESAM, SUK, SWAK, KSA, The Kuki Students’ Organization, General HQ, KSO, Zeliangrong Students Union, ZSU, Tangkhul Katamnao Saklong and the Pangal Students Organization had gathered at the headquarters of the All Manipur Students’ Union (AMSU) in Imphal and made a joint statement. We are simply ecstatic and happy that these bodies have put their thinking heads together. The student bodies had jointly condemned the laid back response of the central government and the state government regarding the present assault and threats meted out to the students and professionals of the region in other cities of the country which resulted in the exodus of several students and professionals from Bangalore, Pune and other metro cities. The unseen threats and intimidation, however offensive it may be, has accelerated a cathartic process and has united the student bodies of Manipur and the people as well. Voices like ‘People both from the hills and the valley should come together and unite against the present issue’, ‘Political leaders should desist from making the issue a communal issue for political mileage and benefits’, and ‘People from the mainland parts of the country has been considering the people of the NE as second class from before and we have been racially discriminated’ have come up. The understanding of the common threat or the attitudinal problem of mainland India towards NE and Manipur is becoming clearer. Let us say, a clear picture is emerging. In such a juncture, student bodies and civil society organisations cutting across community lines should put their heads together and revisit inter community relations and seek a common existence. For that is our reality.

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