The persistence of violence in Manipur for over four months now threatens to undermine the “significant strides in development” India is making as the country prepares to host the G-20 Summit, a group of 1,300 Meitei people from across Europe, the U.S., and other parts of the world and their supporters have said in an open letter to the Prime Minister’s Office.
The letter, sent on September 3, and received by the PMO on September 4, was signed by Meitei diaspora worldwide and their supporters, some of whom are also in Delhi. It has also been marked to External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, Home Minister Amit Shah, and Chief Minister N. Biren Singh.
Signed by the “Meitei diaspora worldwide and supporters”, the letter appealed for immediate intervention to restore normalcy and harmony in Manipur and urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to visit Manipur and visit the affected people. The signatories also asked that the PM “personally engage” with Mr. Biren Singh and other authorities to bring peace.
The State has been seeing an undergoing ethnic conflict between the dominant Valley-based Meitei community and the Hills-based Scheduled Tribe Kuki-Zomi people. Nearly 200 people have been killed so far, with hundreds more injured and tens of thousands internally displaced.
The open letter said, “We acknowledge the intricate complexities inherent to our Manipur society - the Meiteis, the Nagas, and the Kuki communities, each with their own unique identities and aspirations. However, the pivotal role of your esteemed office is to serve as a binding force that ensures the protection and progress of every Indian citizen.”
“Your presence in Manipur and immediate intervention will bring hope and a sense of security to the violence-ridden people and assure their life and livelihood,” they continued.
The letter said that the violence had most starkly affected the State’s farmers and students, citing the death of a farmer in Bishnupur district on August 29 and the displacement of hundreds of students in the State. The signatories said, “Manipur is on the verge of a conflict-induced famine and starvation as farmers are not able to work in their fields despite the presence of security forces for their protection.”
One of the representatives of the Meitei diaspora, who helped initiate the campaign to write the open letter, told The Hindu over the phone, “Not just Meitei people but other Indians living outside and our other supporters have also signed this letter, given the situation.”
Other signatories added that the letter was not written by any organisation but that it was an effort “from concerned Manipuris from all over the world and our supporters”. They also said that the signatories had decided not to reveal their names to the public because of the “sensitivity” of the situation. One of the signatories said they have, however, made these details available to the PMO in an attachment to their letter.
One Meitei representative, based in Europe said, “I have had friends from the Kuki community for a long time. We do not want to offend anyone at this sensitive juncture and so the decision was taken to sign the letter as Meitei Diaspora Worldwide and supporters.”