The observation began early in the day with thousands of people turning up at the district hospital mortuary to pay homage to the nine ‘martyrs’ who are still awaiting their funeral there for the past one year.
The JAC Against Anti-Tribal Bills led the ceremony where numerous leaders and organisations paid floral and other symbolic respect to the youths for the supreme sacrifice they made for their people. The ritual continued hours beyond the planned schedule due to the overwhelming turn-out.
Traditional gun-salute by residents preceded the morgue event, as called by the JAC-AATB.
The main event scheduled at Churachandpur College campus was attended by tens of thousands of people who jam-packed the campus. Several tribal leaders addressed the gathering and honoured at least seven of the protestors who were maimed during the peak of the agitation and still need medical attention to this day.
At least two MPs, Jitendra Chowdhury and Biswajit Daimary besides the convenor of OMTF Gaidon Kamei and other dignitaries were to address the gathering as well but were barred from attending the ceremony by a group of people who blocked their way a few kilometres from here.
Addressing the Tribal Unity Day, JAC-AATB convenor H Mangchinkhup said today’s event marked the spontaneous protest and unity displayed by the tribals after the three ‘anti-tribal Bills’ were passed by the ‘communal’ Government of Manipur in 2015. The movement of the tribal people against the three ‘anti-tribal’ Bills will be remembered in the history of the tribals and though it has not yielded the result as rapidly as desired, the leaders are prepared to lead the movement as long as the people are prepared to back them and take the movement to its logical conclusion.
It is also high time that the tribal people recognise who their true adversary is and not wrangle amongst themselves as the Government of Manipur is on the prowl to crush the tribal movement, he said and added that despite it, the tribal people stand united.
He also claimed that the current turmoil is a creation of the communal Government of Manipur to gain political mileage over the tribals and noted the need to crush it politically. ‘We opposed the three Bills passed last year, and now another Bill is in the offing. We will oppose that too. But it is clear that the Government of Manipur will keep passing new Bills against the interest of the tribals.
Therefore, it is imperative that this political malice is politically nipped in the bud to safeguard the rights and interests of the tribals. It is not a mere question of prosperity; but a question of survival wherein every tribal individual have a stake, he added.
The chairman of Zomi Council, B Dongzalian and the president of Mizo Peoples’ Convention Vanlalrinliana echoed the same sentiment and claimed that the three ‘anti-tribal’ Bills are massive political efforts undertaken by the State government that need to be halted at every opportunity.
The president of Thadou Inpi, YT Thadou also called on the tribal people to unitedly fight the common enemy and claimed that even animals know the group they belong.
Hmar Inpui president Joseph Lalrouthang while proclaiming unflinching support of the Hmar supreme body to the ongoing movement called on the section of tribal brethren who failed to turn-up for the Unity Day. “They are still our brothers and not our enemies,” he said.
MTFD chief convenor Romeo Hmar claimed that no force on earth can stop the tribal people from getting freedom and justice if the public continues to rally behind the movement.