Bridging the gap. The venue was right too. Churachandpur and here full credit ought to be given to the Editors’ Guild, Manipur (EGM) and Manipur Hill Journalists’ Union (MHJU) for organising a seminar that sought to bridge the gap between the different communities residing in the State. With due apology to the EGM and the MHJU, The Sangai Express would prefer to overlook the ‘Communal Harmony’ topic part of the seminar and instead concentrate on the ‘Bridging the Gap’ part, for it is of the firm belief that once the gap between the different communities is bridged then there will be no question of communal animosity. So the concentration on ‘Bridging the Gap’ part of the topic. As stated at the opening of this commentary, the venue was just right too. And bridging the gap should not only be seen between the different communities but also between a set of community and the State Government and this point is important especially when it comes to Churachandpur and the hill districts. This is significant in the face of the fact that of the nine people killed after the State Assembly passed the three Bills on August 31, 2015, eight are still lying in state. Nearly two years since Churachandpur erupted in protest and till today the eight bodies continue to stand as mute testimony to the scale of violence that shook not only the district but the entire State and the relevant question that needs to be asked now is, why has the wound continued to fester even till today ? More than evident that no sincere attempt seems to have been made to address this question fittingly.
It is fortunate that the BJP led Government does not have to bear the burden of the Congress Government that has just been voted out, but still it stands that many of the elected members of the Assembly in 2015 continue to be members of the House and herein lies the point that a fresh start means not only a fresh Government with the same faces, but a fresh approach. Remains to be seen how successfully the Biren Singh Government will be able to infuse that fresh approach to give the true meaning of a fresh beginning. No doubt the divide over the August 31, 2015 Bills is deep, very deep, and it is disturbing to note that a Bill or Bills passed to protect the interest of the indigenous people should sow the seeds of such a divide that even nearly two years down the line the bodies of 8 of the 9 people killed in the protest are still lying unclaimed as a mark of the continuing protest of the people of Churachandpur. It is here that the BJP led Government need to deeply study the possibility of passing such a Bill which can be enforced only in the valley area. An argument which has been put forth in this column before and why not. Remember the hills are already Constitutionally protected and it is the valley that needs some legal protection from the onslaught of the large scale influx of non-local people into the State. This is an option which the BJP led Government should seriously study.
Source: The Sangai Express