Monday, May 27, 2024
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May 3 – Day of Great Awakening for the Kukis

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Editor,
The Kuki Inpi Manipur (KIM) has recently made an announcement that it will observe May 3 as Kuki-Zo Awakening to mark the first anniversary of the Meitei Genocide Campaign against Kuki-Zo ethnic group which was launched on May 3, 2023. In fact, the day will remain as a day when Kukis were awakened from deep slumber in the comfort of their homes. Moreover, it becomes a day to reconsider the principles of coexistence, rewrite history, redirect priorities and reevaluate the strengths and weaknesses. Therefore, KIM finds it most appropriate to call the day Awakening Day.
To recall, on this day a year ago, Meiteis and their right-wing secessionist militant organizations launched a sudden and surprise attack against innocent Kukis. Rather than controlling the situation, the Manipur state government and its law enforcing agencies stood silent on what happened in the heart of Imphal city. Within days, hundreds of innocent Kukis were killed and thousands of homes were reduced to ashes. Within weeks, tens of thousands of Kukis were displaced from their homes. Till date there is no relief in sight. The Manipur government and the far-right Meitei organizations continue targeting Kukis and their settlements on the pretext of performing the ‘noblest causes’ such as ‘war on drugs’, ‘checking illegal immigration’ and ‘fighting militancy’.
There is a long list of stories that describe the pain and suffering of innocents in the hands of state-sponsored terror. For twelve months now, Kukis stood against the mighty state forces, resisted several thousand strong Meitei militants who constantly made inroads into Kuki areas and attacked innocent villagers. Kuki-Zo civil societies have urged Centre’s intervention, but the pleas are left unheard. They are left without any option but defend with the least they have.
Now, as they continue to fight Meitei terror which is purely based on hate and greed, it gives invaluable lessons to all Kuki-Zo ethnic groups in Manipur and elsewhere. Meitei atrocities have taught that the only means of their survival is taking firm and united stance against any form of hatred and inhuman subjection. It also taught that victory lies not in numbers but in the fair spirit of defending one’s life and territory against any external threat.
Meitei atrocities also taught that Kukis could no longer rely on the friendship their forefathers forged, as it has been proven treacherous. This year-long conflict has proven that the right to life, dignity and freedom depends on the supreme sacrifice of Kuki sons and daughters alone. They have also been reminded that their home lies not in the valley but deep in the mountains, the abode of their ancestors. They must ensure that these mountains shine bright and beautiful someday. Meitei greed and jealousy taught that Kukis should be independent from Meitei centric systems such as education and medical care. They are compelled to build their own hospitals, schools and universities. They have just realized the importance of maintaining an independent arterial road for transport and communication.
Meitei war crimes also taught that, at the end of the day Kukis would survive only if they firmly stand united or else will perish separately. Young Kukis in the battlefield and their daughters attending to the family have learnt how trivial it is to fight for names and dialectic variations. When there is an impending death waiting at the other bunker, it is the other who comes to the rescue risking one’s own life. Meitei atrocities have inculcated the spirit of unity, rebuilt trust and healed past wounds among Kukis. Thus, the genocidal campaign against Kukis has become a ‘necessary evil’ for their self-realization and introspection.
With this, the proposed theme “Kuki-Zo Awakening Day” by Kuki Inpi Manipur (KIM) appropriately presents the situations as to how far have Kukis managed to capitalize on the Meitei aggression to their advantage. The theme positively presents a sense of responsibility for each and every Kuki to contribute towards the common cause. It challenges the old school of thought on the values; coexistence, integrity, development and nation building as it has become obsolete since May 3, 2023. The day which was deadly and destructive, has redirected Kukis towards the original path – a path of past glory which was taken away a few hundred years ago. Kukis must accept May 3 as an Awakening Call to also shed our differences, accept each other and more importantly keep reminding ourselves that none would survive alone as a petty tribe or clan. They will only restore their past glory as one great nation.
Yours etc.,
L Chongloi,
Via email
Press freedom & democracy
Editor,
To defend the media from attacks on their independence, World Press Freedom Day is observed on May 3 every year. Freedom of the press and democracy have a symbiotic relationship. One cannot live without the other.
In a political IPL match between the ruling and the opposition parties, the media should not assume the role of cheerleaders of any one team in a democracy. Opposition parties are like bowlers. An opposition bowler questions a batsman of the ruling party by sending her/his delivery. The media, like the third umpire, helps the voters (umpires on the field) to take a decision about whether the batsman should be out or whether it is a no ball in the first place. There will be no democracy if the third umpire becomes a cheerleader of the batting side.
On real issues revolving around people’s lives, the YouTuber, Dhruv Rathee said, “But how will this reach you if the media doesn’t talk about it?” Indeed, if the media fails the people, then democracy would be in danger. The print and electronic media must not engage themselves in playing with red herring (ignoratio elenchi) to distract public attention from the real issues.
Recently, several journalists’ collectives from across the country had written to the Chief Justice of India to take cognisance and check the “inherent malice” behind the raids at the homes of 46 journalists, editors, writers and professionals connected to NewsClick and the seizure of their electronic devices.
The collectives also observed, “Journalism cannot be prosecuted as terrorism.” In their letter, they said that the invocation of the UAPA was “especially chilling.” On Tuesday, the Supreme Court told Delhi Police that judicial orders remanding 74-year-old journalist and online portal NewsClick founder Prabir Purkayastha would crumble if his arrest turned out to be illegal.
India’s ranking in the 2023 World Press Freedom Index has alarmingly slipped to 161 out of 180 countries. It is a matter of grave concern because democracy cannot survive without press freedom.
Yours etc.,
Sujit De, .
Kolkata

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