MANIPUR has been on the boil for nearly three months and the horrific video of two women being paraded naked has shaken the collective conscious of the nation.
Reports from Manipur say the incident recorded in the video was just the tip of the iceberg and that many more such incidents have so far gone unreported.
It was expected that the issue would be discussed in Parliament and all political parties would bury their differences to discuss the unprecedented situation in Manipur and would try to find ways to restore normalcy.
Perhaps a joint team of all political parties could have undertaken a tour of the state and a join appeal could have soothed the frayed nerves in the north eastern state.
Instead we find the opposition parties as well as the ruling party hardening their stand and thereby stalling a debate in Parliament.
Opposition parties, which now call themselves as INDIA are demanding that the Prime Minister makes a statement in either house of Parliament before the beginning of the debate while the ruling coalition taking the stand that a reply to the debate would be given by Union Home minister Amit Shah as it was a debate concerning law and order situation.
This lack of flexibility and an adamant stand by politicians is being witnessed by the people of the country with great dismay and anger. For the opposition parties to insist on the Prime Minister making the statement first is an unnecessary demand. Similarly for the prime minister, who otherwise loves to speak on any conceivable topic, to take a rigid stand and reject the opposition demand does not raise his own stature.
Narendra Modi, who undoubtedly holds the dubious world record for not addressing a press conference since he assumed office nine years ago, has been indulging in one sided monologue through his public speeches and other forums like Mann ki Baat. He has declined to answer any questions from independent media or even the Parliamentarians.
He was forced to answer one question from a reporter in Washington but that was due to the time honoured tradition in the United States where visiting heads of states answer questions from journalists.
This time, as a compromise, only two journalists were permitted to ask a question – an Indian journalist asked a question to the US President and an American journalist was allowed to ask Modi one question. No supplementary questions or cross questions were allowed.
And Modi was asked the question which he had avoiding all these years – on the communal disharmony in the country. Of course he got away by denying and giving a vague answer.
However, coming back to Manipur, prime minister took no less than 79 days to make a mention of Manipur in his statements and speeches. His deafening silence on the issue despite the tense situation in Manipur, was evidently unjustified.
While he had been speaking on a variety of other issues, he had not spoken a word about Manipur – not even condemning the violence or making an appeal to the people of Manipur to stop violence. Angry Manipuris broke their radio sets to protest the absence of any reference to the violence in the state during his Mann ki Baat.
The prime minister went to neighbouring Assam for attending some functions but didn’t visit Manipur. Union Home minister Amit Shah did visit the BJP ruled state but evidently his efforts to restore calm did not succeed.
What was expected was that the Centre would dismiss the state government for its failure to control the situation or at least change the chief minister. Neither happened.
Besides the politicians and governments, who have failed the nation on the issue, even other institutions mandated to protect rights remained silent observers.
Supreme Court should have taken cognisance much earlier when reports were continuously coming about violence in the state which has led to over 150 killings, thousands injured and lakhs rendered homeless and the governments both at the Centre and the state failing to perform their duties. The warning by the Chief Justice of India to the government to intervene came in too late.
Similarly the National Commission for Women (NCW) failed to intervene or send its team to Manipur. It did not give any notice to the state government although it is known to have intervened on some very absurd or non-serious incidents.
And now we are finding political leaders across the spectrum failing us by raising frivolous objections and not getting together to find an amicable solution to the crisis in Manipur. It is time they bury their political differences and help douse the fire.
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