Thousands of men and women took to the streets across all urban centres in Mizoram on July 25 to express solidarity with the violence-hit Kuki-Zo tribal people and demand the restoration of normalcy in Manipur.
Mizoram Chief Minister Zoramthanga, his deputy Tawnluia, several Ministers, and many MLAs cutting across party lines took part in the ‘Solidarity March’ organised by the NGOs Coordination Committee (NCC) in the State’s capital Aizawl.
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The participants condemned the Central and Manipur governments for the “brutal attack” on the tribal people and sexual assaults on the tribal women. Carrying placards and banners, they slammed Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his “silence” over the violence raging for 84 days and Manipur Chief Minister N. Biren Singh for his “total failure” in dealing with the situation.
Some of the banners read: “The sufferings of tribals in Manipur are our sufferings”, “Mizoram stands with Kuki-Zo tribals in Manipur”, “Let us not go back to a barbaric era”, “Women’s bodies are not battlefields”, “Death penalty for Manipur rapists”, and “Stop killing Christians in Manipur”.
Mr. Zoramthanga said both, the governments of Manipur, and India have to try their best to find a solution to the ethnic mess in Manipur. “The wound is very deep and it will be very difficult to heal,” he cautioned.
Malsawmliana, the assistant general secretary of the influential Young Mizo Association (YMA, the main constituent of the NCC) said the intensity of the violence and human rights abuse in Manipur has been unparalleled in India.
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Popular Mizo singers belted out solidarity songs during the rally and volunteers collected more than ₹10 lakh from the participants for the Kuki-Zo people displaced from Manipur and taking refuge in Mizoram.
“So far, 359 churches and quarters have been destroyed, 197 villages burnt, 7,247 homes damaged by fire and 41,425 people have been forced to leave Manipur. Many students studying in Manipur cannot continue their studies due to this ethnic conflict. This may have far-reaching effects on the lives of the students and even the country as a whole,” a statement issued by the NCC said.
The offices of the ruling Mizo National Front, the Congress, the BJP, and the Zoram People’s Movement were closed in support of the solidarity rallies.
YMA general secretary Lalnuntluanga issued a statement earlier, appealing to the Meitei people residing in Aizawl and other parts of Mizoram not to be intimidated by the rally. “The Solidarity March aims to express support for our brothers and sisters in Manipur. The YMA also urges the Manipur government to take necessary measures to ensure their well-being and security,” he said.
Security was tightened across Mizoram in view of the march, organised two days after some Meitei people began exiting the State following an alleged quit notice by an organisation of former extremists.