With Manipur gripped by ethnic violence since May, hundreds of Meiteis from around the world have written an open letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeking his intervention to restore normalcy in the northeastern state.
In their letter titled 'Urgent Plea for Immediate Intervention to Restore Normalcy and Harmony in Manipur', Meitei NRIs and Meiteis of Indian origin urged Modi to visit Manipur and meet the people affected by this "senseless violence and ongoing turmoil".
As India prepares to host the G20 summit, the "persistence of violence" in Manipur threatens to undermine these achievements, they said.
Over 1,300 people signed the open letter within 48 hours, which was submitted to the Prime Minister's Office on Monday.
"As India makes significant strides in development and prepares to host the G20 summit, the persistence of violence in Manipur threatens to undermine these achievements. The ongoing violence in Manipur has fractured the social fabric of the state," the letter said.
"As custodians of the aspirations for a united and harmonious Manipur and India, we earnestly implore you to take resolute measures to prevent further escalation of the situation. The people of Manipur deserve lives free from fear, where they can thrive in an atmosphere marked by peace, stability and safety," it said.
The Meiteis urged Modi to personally engage with the chief minister of Manipur and the authorities concerned to restore normalcy in the state.
"The innocent people of Manipur have borne the burden of suffering beyond imagination and it is our collective responsibility to ensure their safety and well-being," the letter said.
"As the leader of our great nation, you have the power to shape the destiny of our Manipur and illuminate the path of effective governance, empathy and bring in the much-needed unity of the people of Manipur. We humbly request you to visit Manipur and meet the people affected by this senseless violence and ongoing turmoil," it said.
Modi's presence in Manipur, the letter said, will bring hope and a sense of security to those affected by the violence.
The turmoil has also put Manipur's farmers, the backbone of the society, in grave jeopardy, it said.
"The tragic incidents of farmers being attacked highlight their predicaments. For instance, on 29 August 2023, Salam Jotin, a 37-year-old farmer was shot by a long-range sniper gun while working in his field at Naranseina, Bishnupur district.
"The situation has been exacerbated by the displacement of many farmers currently forced to live in relief camps. 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," it said.
Thousands of students have also been forced to discontinue their education due to the violence, depriving them of opportunities to realise their aspirations. The repercussions of this reverberate beyond individual lives, impeding the progress and prosperity of society, it said.
"Putting an end to senseless violence becomes paramount in preserving the dreams and ambitions of our youth," it added.
The letter said there are "intricate complexities inherent to the 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. By initiating meaningful dialogues among these communities, you hold the key to nurturing understanding and collaboration, paving the way for peaceful coexistence," it said.
Copies of the letter have also been sent to Home Minister Amit Shah, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and Manipur Chief Minister N Biren Singh.
More than 160 people have been killed and several hundreds injured since the ethnic clashes broke out in Manipur on May 3 after a 'Tribal Solidarity March' was organised in the hill districts to protest against the Meitei community's demand for Scheduled Tribe (ST) status.
Meiteis account for about 53 per cent of Manipur's population and live mostly in the Imphal Valley. Tribals — Nagas and Kukis — constitute 40 per cent of the population and reside in the hill districts.
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