Under the banner of the Coordinating Committee on Cultural Fraternity, hundreds of artists representing various art forms staged a sit-in protest at Iboyaima Shumang Leela Shanglen in Imphal on Saturday demanding a peaceful and amicable solution to restore normalcy in Manipur.
During the protest, artists urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s urgent intervention to end the hardships and unrest faced by the citizens of Manipur, which have resulted in casualties and displacements. Renowned theatre personality Ratan Thiyam, who participated in the protest, emphasized the need for a human peace package rather than food packages.
Thiyam, a Sangeet Natak Akademi awardee, expressed his disappointment, stating that the people of Manipur are being treated as “third-class” citizens rather than even second-class citizens. He also raised concerns about the insufficient rehabilitation efforts and stressed the dire consequences if the situation continues to escalate.
Under the leadership of Chairman Koijam Radhakumar, the committee resolved to submit a representation to the President of India, seeking her intervention to restore peace and normalcy in Manipur at the earliest.
The protesters displayed placards carrying strong messages such as “Give beautiful Manipur for our children,” “Give up petty politics, love the motherland,” and “Honor the value of every human being”.
As Manipur grapples with unrest and turmoil, the arts and culture community remains steadfast in their demand for peace. They call upon the central government, including the Prime Minister, the President, and all politicians and Union cabinet ministers, to comprehend the gravity of the situation and work towards a resolution. The protesters emphasize the importance of restoring peace and stability in Manipur, ensuring the well-being of its citizens and safeguarding the rich cultural heritage of the region.
Meanwhile, the Centre has constituted a committee in Manipur headed by the governor to facilitate the peace-making process among various ethnic groups and initiate dialogue between conflicting parties, the Union home ministry said on Saturday. The members of the peace committee include the chief minister, a few ministers, MPs, MLAs, leaders from different political parties and civil society groups.
Violent clashes broke out in Manipur after a ‘Tribal Solidarity March’ was organised in the hill districts on May 3 to protest against the Meitei community’s demand for Scheduled Tribes (ST) status. So far, nearly 100 people lost their lives and over 300 injured ever since the ethnic violence broke over a month ago.