Even the coffins of Manipur tribals go unnoticed

Source- The quint.com

New Delhi: Nine civilians allegedly killed in police firing in Churachandpur district of Manipur are yet to be buried and for the past one month people of tribal communities of the North Eastern state have been protesting at Jantar Mantar with nine coffins of the slain people.

The protest by the Manipuri community has been taking place in the national capital since November 4 in a bid to highlight the plight of tribal people in Meitei dominated North Eastern state, however, even that has failed to draw the government’s attention.

The Manipur Tribals’ Forum Delhi (MTFD) along with other people from the state has been vociferous against the killing of nine civilians in the police firing in Churachandpur district on September 1.

The protest is against the alleged killing of nine civilians, including an 11-year-old boy in police firing, while they were protesting against the passing of the three controversial bills in assembly.

Nine coffins are kept at Jantar Mantar as part of the protest. Bodies are yet to be buried.

The protesters said that this was a way to tell Indian people and Indian government about the plight of tribal people in Meitei dominated Manipur state.

Tribals believe that the bills mentioned above give more power to majority Meitei community. They are also demanding political separation from the Manipur state.

The protest is almost one-month-old (and the incident is three-month-old) but the Government is yet to react to the issue. It appears as if they either don’t care or fail to realise that the Northeast is also a part of India.

As a result of the market-oriented media, some areas of India do not get the attention they deserve. Their issues and people live under the shadow; people from other parts of India indulge in pathetic stereotyping, using derogatory terms like ‘Chinki’.

Chennai flood is now all over the media after people slammed the so-called ‘national news channels’ for allegedly ignoring the natural disaster in the southern state of Tamil Nadu. Similar apathy was shown to Assam which was hit by floods earlier this year; it failed to attract get the one-tenth of the coverage of what the reportage of a disaster in a North Indian state would receive.

The north-eastern part of the country has often been treated as the step-son of the mother India. They seem to have no information about their culture and history of the NE. They call them Chinese or Nepalese in utter ignorance. It is media’s job to inform people, however, media is apparently selective in its approach.

Media seem to have a different idea of India. Anything that happens in Delhi concerns India, according to them. The role of media is very important, it forces the government to take actions and if the media do not highlight some issues, the government usually ignores them. The only problem is that on the receiving end of this apathy mostly are Northeastern states or the Naxal-infested villages in Chattisgarh.

In Delhi, if police lathi-charge at a crowd, it becomes a national news and here nine people were killed and their bodies are yet to be buried. It has been one month of the protest and yet nobody from the government has reached out to them.

Kejriwal got massive coverage for his hunger strikes, became a national leader, but more than half of this nation might not be aware of Irom Sharmila’s existence.

This kind of protest does not take long to turn into a violent struggle. Not everyone has patience like Irom Sharmila. This is why an issue should be solved in the early stage.

India has seen a lot of struggle in the northeast, leading to the loss of precious lives. However, the situation in recent times has changed for the better. But if the Government fails to satisfy and listen to their grievances, it could lead to the return of old violent ways.

Delhi sees a number of students coming over from the northeast every year. Tragically several of them face racial attack, some of them have even lost their lives and still the issues concerning our NE brothers fail to secure well-deserved media attention. People, on the other hand, sympathize for a day and then move on.

India is very vocal about its unity in diversity. But such treatment from the media and the government does not augur well for the country’s unity and forces people to think that they are different or ‘others’, giving ammunition to the anti-national forces.

The worst case scenario for a democracy is when any section of the population starts having the feeling that its government does not care about them. It creates rebels and conflicts which impact the internal peace of the nation.

Saying that India is as much of a northeastern’s as it is of a Delhite’s wouldn’t suffice. Media need to be more sensitive and the government has to take more actions, instead of lip service, to counter the issues in the northeast and all other such neglected parts of the country.