A group of concerned citizens in a press conference on Thursday called for an end to violence in Manipur, which they accused the government of letting it happen and escalate. They also urged the government to take effective measures to ensure that atrocities against the Christian community and Tribals stop, which the government was not tackling enough. Organised by the United Against Injustice and Disparity, it was held at the Marathi Patrakar Sangh.
The conference was held by Fr. Frazer Mascarenhas, Parish Priest of St. Peter's Church, Maulana Mehmood Dariyabadi, general secretary of All India UIema Council, Niranjan Takle, senior journalist and Irfan Ali Engineer of Centre for Study of Society and Secularism. (Retd.) Justice Abhay Thipsay who was to preside over the press conference, organisers said, opted out due to "family" reasons.
Reason behind the Manipur violence
Manipur has seen spate of violence after the High Court had directed the state government to put the majority Meitei community in the Schedule Tribe. The Supreme Court had remarked that the High Court cannot make such recommendations. Speakers at the press conference said that the process to have any tribe or a community in the Scheduled Tribe (ST) should be after following due process and since Meiteis were the majority, they could not have been included in the ST category.
"If the Meiteis were to be part of ST, 89 percent of the Indian population can be tagged as ST. We call on the government to take effective measures to stop violence. Over 60 people have died and 35,000 people are living in relief camps. For small state like that, it is nothing less that a genocide," said Engineer.
Targeted attacks on Christians and minorities
Speakers said that there were targeted attacks on Christians and minorities on which the government was not acting. "With great difficulty we have had peace there but some people do not want peace to prevail. Around 100 churches were burnt and the government should ensure they are restored. What we see is the government talking about Karnataka elections and now Rajasthan but not the problem in Manipur," said Dariyabadi.
Violence not curbed deliberately by governments
Mascarenhas said that violence was not curbed deliberately by different governments as was seen in the last 20 years and the whole Christian community was being targeted in Manipur. "In Godhra and Kandhamal for several days there was no action taken. When the violence erupted, it seemed that the government let it happen. My own colleagues were affected. Kuki and Naga Tribes have fought for the country's freedom. No country can survive if violence against large groups continues," said Mascarenhas.
"People affiliated with RSS went there and the problem started," said Takle. He said that even Mary Kom who has won accolades for India tweeted and tagged the Prime Minister but there has been no reply from him. "The case used to be different when Kangana Ranaut would tweet," said Takle. Speakers said that the government should initiate dialogue and take everyone into confidence before deciding on a Schedule Tribe tag for any community and ensure minorities do not live in fear.
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