Chandigarh: The continuing violence in Manipur brought together farmers from across 20 districts in Punjab on Sunday, August 6, to stage a protest against the alleged failure of the Narendra Modi government and the Biren Singh government in controlling the violence. The protest was largely led by women.
With the violence raging on unabated in Manipur, six people, including a father-son duo, were killed in the fresh spell of violence in the state. Condemning this, farmers led by the Bhartiya Kisan Union (Ekta-Ugrahan), Punjab’s largest farmer organisation, marched towards the Governor’s House in Chandigarh. They submitted to the governor a letter demanding the immediate dismissal of the N. Biren Singh-led Manipur government.
The protesters held top leadership of the BJP both at the centre and at the state responsible for the ongoing violence in Manipur. They condemned the heinous crimes of parading women naked and inhuman acts of rape and murder. So far, the three-month-long mayhem has claimed over 160 lives and left several displaced.
They also sought strict action against those involved in these crimes in the strife-torn state.
The Centre on Monday told the Supreme Court that the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) will probe 12 FIRs relating to the crimes against women in violence-hit Manipur.
Calling the government action mere “eyewash”, Harinder Bindu, women leader of BKU(Ekta-Ugrahan), alleged that Manipur violence was part of a large conspiracy to divide ethnic communities in the state for vote polarisation just like Hindus and Muslims in the rest of the country.
“All this is being done with greed for power and allowing crony corporates to take control of land, forest, and other natural resources by creating conflicts among communities,” she alleged.
Another woman leader Kuldeep Kaur Kussa said that the majority Meitei Hindus in Manipur targeted the minority Kuki tribal tribe, burning hundreds of their villages and 300 church houses, displacing tens of thousands of people from hundreds of villages. She also alleged that more than 150 murders were committed, and several women were raped. “This is part of the communal-execution policy,” she said.
Another female protester Mandeep Kaur said that police in Manipur had turned a blind eye to the looting of weapons from police stations and state armouries. She said more than 4,500 modern weapons and more than 5 lakh bullets had been looted by various violent groups over the last three months. The fact that the police let it happen was a testimony to the “fascist policy” of the Biren government, she added.
Sukhdev Singh Kokrikalan, the general secretary of BKU(Ekta Ugrahan), said this was not just a protest for Manipur but against the violent communal campaign being carried out by the BJP governments in the entire country.
The president of the organisation, Joginder Singh Ugrahan, warned the Manipur and Union governments that they will have to face more riots if the demands of the people are not met.
He demanded that all legal, administrative, and political steps must be immediately taken to restore the unity of Maitai, Kuki, and other ethnic communities of Manipur. Extensive confidence-building steps should be taken through people-to-people contact.
He also demanded the withdrawal of The Forest Conservation (Amendment) Act 2023, which he said, was passed to give undue benefits to crony capitalists.
Ugrahan, whose organisation played a vital role in the withdrawal of the farm laws in 2021, says the Modi government first tried to destroy agriculture by bringing in three agricultural laws, and now, using Manipur violence, the government amended the Forest Rights Act so that natural resources of the northeastern states can be taken over.
It was not just farmers who protested the Manipur violence. Several other groups in Punjab have been accusing the Union government of acting with prejudice towards some communities. For instance, last week several Christian organisations in Jalandhar and Amritsar districts demanded justice for the victims of the Manipur violence.
Both Congress and Aam Aadmi Party too held separate protests in the recent past, asking Prime Minister Narendra Modi to come clean on the violence in Manipur.
Last month on July 25, the Chandigarh Police resorted to using water cannons during the AAP’s protest against violence in Manipur.