Union Home Minister Amit Shah’s recent reported statement on Manipur’s women activists has evoked strong reactions from people as well as leaders, with many saying that the State and national BJP leaders have not learned “valuable lessons” from the Manipuri women’s fight against corruption and other injustices.
Union Home Minister Amit Shah reportedly told some BJP MLAs, “Restrain the women activists and we could solve the Manipur unrest in a matter of 10 days”. Mr. Shah further said that the women activists were “hindering the work” of the security forces.
Congress Legislature Party leader Okram Ibobi said, ”From the reported statement, it is clear that the Home Minister Amit Shah and other BJP national leaders are not aware of the role of the intrepid women in implementing prohibition, fighting drug menace and all other social evils. Even during the current unrest the women have been in the forefront. A social evil of such enormity cannot be solved without the helping hands of the women activists”.
Manipur has been witnessing bloodshed since May 3 with about 200 persons being killed and over 34 youths abducted reportedly.
The 60 MLAs of Manipur were unable to stay in Manipur as thousands of women and youth activists stormed their houses demanding their stand on solving the burgeoning communal clashes. Most of the MLAs have been camping in Delhi to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other BJP national leaders.
Manipur had witnessed two “women’s war” in the past. The first, basically to oppose the forced labour, began on March 15, 1904. Protesters burnt down some bungalows of the British officials. Despite an announcement of a ₹500 reward for information on the perpetrators nobody came forward to claim this amount considered to be fabulous in those days. Eventually, the forced labour was done away with.
The second ‘women’s war’ of 1934 was against the exploitation of the people by levying various forms of illegal taxes by the British officials in collusion with the king. Besides, a tribal had to pay house tax of ₹3 while the valley dweller had to pay ₹2.
The people had to face the famine-like situation since the free export of rice created an artificial scarcity. The women protesters asked the traders to sell rice at ₹1 and 12 annas per quintal. There was a struggle for several months and the women had to close down the Khwairamband market in the Imphal city. Even today this main market is the launching pad for the women’s fight against various evils and injustices.