Wednesday, July 24, 2024

Famed theatre personality Ratan Thiyam quit peace panel, seeks Centre’s intervention in Manipur

Eminent theatre personality Ratan Thiyam on Wednesday pulled out of the Manipur peace committee, constituted by the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) last week to facilitate the peacemaking process among various ethnic groups of the state.

Thiyam, a Sangeet Natak Akademi Award winner in 1987, said that only with the intervention from the Centre, can the Manipur crisis be solved.

“Despite over a month long ethnic crisis, Prime Minister (Narendra Modi) remained silent. For 2,000 years, people of 35 communities have been living together cordially and harmoniously. We are very peace-loving people,” Thiyam, 75, told the media.

He said that sincere political will is necessary to resolve the prevailing ethnic crisis in Manipur.

A former Chairperson of the National School of Drama (from 2013-2017), Thiyam has earlier appealed to the religious leaders of the state to take up a proactive role in restoring peace and stability.

The 51-member peace committee, headed by Governor Anusuiya Uikey, was set up to pursue peace among various ethnic groups by holding dialogue and negotiations between conflicting parties or groups in the state where devastating ethnic violence since May 3 killed over 120 people and injured more than 350.

Leaders and representatives of the Meitei, Kuki, Naga, Muslim, and Nepali communities are the members of the peace committee, which also included Chief Minister N. Biren Singh, a few state Ministers, MPs, MLAs, leaders from different political parties, former civil servants, educationists, litterateurs, artistes, social workers and representatives of different ethnic groups.

However, in a major setback to the government’s efforts to restore peace, an important Meitei civil society organisation on Tuesday announced its withdrawal from the peace committee while an apex Kuki organisation expressed their unhappiness over the committee’s unilateral formation and objected to inclusion of Chief Minister Biren Singh in it.

Coordinating Committee on Manipur Integrity (COCOMI) Convenor Jeetendra Ningomba said that they are “extremely dissatisfied” with the composition of the peace committee. “COCOMI rejected this committee since the sentiments of the people living in the valley region are very high against the Kuki militants groups and we had demanded the govt that first they should withdraw Suspension of Operations with the militants,” Ningomba had told the media. He said that peace cannot be achieved in Manipur unless the pressing issues of narco-terrorism and illegal immigration are effectively addressed, but the government did not do anything.

On the other hand, the Kuki Inpi Manipur(KIM), in a statement, said that its President was nominated as a member of the peace committee without prior and proper consultation and information, and the group objected to the government’s unilateral decision.

“It must be put on record that the Manipur government led by Chief Minister N. Biren Singh has lost all credibility by orchestrating communal attacks and sponsoring radical and extremist groups as Arambai Tenggol and Meetei Leepun against the Kukis,” a KIM statement had said.

Kuki-based civil society organisation Indigenous Tribal Leaders Forum (ITLF) has also condemned the inclusion of Chief Minister Biren Singh in the panel.

The ethnic violence began in Manipur on May 3 after a ‘Tribal Solidarity March’ was organised by a tribal student body in the hill districts to protest against the Meitei community’s demand for Scheduled Tribe (ST) status.

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