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regular-article-logo Monday, 17 June 2024

Adivasis to hit streets on Friday to protest against atrocities against Kukis in Manipur and UCC

Tribal outfits line up marches to protest Manipur violence, Dilip Ghosh's house gheraoed

Snehamoy Chakraborty Calcutta Published 27.07.23, 05:15 AM
Members of a tribal outfit gherao the house of BJP MP Dilip Ghosh in West Midnapore's Kharagpur on Wednesday

Members of a tribal outfit gherao the house of BJP MP Dilip Ghosh in West Midnapore's Kharagpur on Wednesday

A forum of 26 tribal outfits of Bengal will hit the streets across the state on Friday to protest against the atrocities against countless people from the Kuki community in Manipur and the plan for the Uniform Civil Code (UCC).

According to the plan by the tribal outfits, large rallies and processions will be organised in dozens of Adivasi pockets across Bengal. A delegation of the tribal forum will submit memorandums to each district magistrate, demanding proper punishment of the guilty in the heinous crimes against the indigenous Kukis in Manipur.

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“After a meeting with leaders of 26 tribal outfits of our state, we decided unanimously to protest against the atrocities on the tribal Kuki community in Manipur. It is shameful that even women have not been spared the brutality. The movement to stand by the people of Manipur is just a beginning, and we will continue till the (Union) government ensures punishment for all those responsible for the communal crimes,” said Rabindranath Murmu, convenor of the United Forum of All Adivasi Organisations of West Bengal.

“We will also condemn the Centre’s attempts to bring the UCC, as that uniformity will destroy our diverse traditional practices and culture,” he added.

The tribal leaders said although the united protest across Bengal is to take place on Friday, many groups from their community have already organised protest marches in districts like West Midnapore and Purulia.

In Midnapore, over 300 tribal people under the banner of the Bharat Jakat Majhi Pargana Mahal, gheraoed the house of the BJP’s national vice-president Dilip Ghosh for an hour on Wednesday evening, demanding justice for the affected tribal people in Manipur.

“We want to know about the action by the BJP-led state government in Manipur and the Centre against those culprits, in Manipur. As a BJP national vice-president and an MP from our state, we want to hear from Dilip Ghosh, why incidents of tribal atrocities are highest in a BJP-ruled state like Manipur?” asked Manoranjan Murmu, an observer of the Bharat Jakat Majhi Pargana Mahal for three Jungle Mahal districts.

A group of tribal people, mainly women, on Wednesday also protested in various places of Purulia against the Manipur violence, and the Centre’s plan to implement the UCC.

Several sources said the united protests by tribal outfits assume political significance before the 2024 Lok Sabha polls, after the BJP faced a setback in tribal pockets in both north and south Bengal in the recently concluded panchayat polls. Those pockets were deemed strongholds of the saffron camp.

Districts like Alipurduar, Jalpaiguri, South Dinajpur, Darjeeling, and parts of Malda in north Bengal, and Jhargram, Purulia, Bankura, and West Midnapore in south Bengal are known tribal-dominated pockets of Bengal. In this panchayat election, the BJP could bag only 4,459 rural body seats out of 23,546 seats in those pockets. In the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, the BJP bagged 12 out of 13 Parliamentary seats in the belt.

“The BJP is trying to regain its lost ground in the tribal-dominated pockets before the 2024 elections. The united protests by the tribal people in Bengal is certainly a cause for worry for the saffron ecosystem, as it proved the Manipur issue would have an impact in this state too,” said a city-based political scientist.

Meanwhile, Trinamul fielded its leaders across Bengal to build public opinion on Manipur and various wings of the ruling dispensation have already hit the ground to strengthen the attack on the BJP. The women’s wing of Trinamul organised protest rallies in Calcutta and several districts on Wednesday. A Trinamul leader said the youth wing of the party would also hit the streets across the state this week.

The Joint Forum against NRC and the Citizens’ Forum for Social Justice -- two city-based outfits -- called a protest meeting on the Manipur issue at Rajabazar on Thursday. The organisers said they would protest, demanding restoration of peace, harmony, and the rule of law in the northeastern state.

Although the main agenda of the tribal movement on Friday is the Manipur issue, a section of the leadership did say they would also condemn the alleged atrocities on women and tribes in other states, including Bengal.

“Our main agenda is to stand by the Kuki community. However, we also stand by with the victims facing atrocities in other states like Bengal,” said Dileshwar Mandi, a leader of the tribal forum from Bankura. On Friday, a large protest rally with a gathering of over 10,000 tribal people was called in Bankura’s Khatra.

BJP leaders claimed they are confident that the people of the tribal communities of Bengal would remain with the party.

“We understand that protests and demonstrations are a democratic right. Most of the tribal communities are and will continue to be with the BJP,” said the BJP’s state chief spokesperson Samik Bhattacharya.

“What happened in Manipur is unfortunate and sensitive. Not only the Centre but also several apolitical organisations are working to re-establish peace in the state.”

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