Manipur unrest: Draped in Black, Mouths Sealed, Khurai Youth’s Silent Protest Speaks Louder

In response to the government’s continued disregard for numerous protests expressing the people’s concerns, hundreds of young individuals from the Khurai Assembly constituency have taken to the streets. As violence in Manipur reaches its sixth month, these protesters, adorned in black shirts and masks, march silently without chanting or shouting. Their demands are clearly displayed on placards they carry, united in their stride through the streets of Khurai.

The “Khurai Pana Naha Sing (Youth of Khurai Pana)” conducted their silent demonstration for about 3 kilometres, starting from YOSC Ground and culminating at the Social Standard Club ground in Khurai Nandeibam Leikai, Salanthong. In a poignant moment, they paused for two minutes of silence, paying tribute to those who have tragically lost their lives in the ongoing conflict.

Contrastingly, the previous evening, a Meira Paibi delegation conveyed to the media their disapproval of the rally organized by the youth of Khurai Pana. They urged the residents of Khurai Assembly constituency to refrain from participating. Yet, in an unexpected twist, hundreds of Meira Paibi members, alongside numerous youths, openly supported the rally’s organizers and their cause.

Building on the unfolding events, Ms. Sana Mangang, one of the participants in the rally, conveyed her disapproval towards the district administration’s decision to declare a curfew in the Khurai areas. “We had clearly communicated that our intention was a non-violent, peaceful protest,” she pointed out. “Through our release, we ensured the public knew it was going to be a silent demonstration. Our attire, black shirts and masks covering our mouths, was symbolic, and we refrained from shouting any slogans. Everything we wanted to say, we did so through banners and placards.”

She then shifted her focus to the broader issue at hand. “Today marks the completion of five distressing months of violence in Manipur, and we’re yet to see a resolution from the government. As young citizens of a democratic country, we, the youth of Khurai Pana, express our profound disappointment at the government’s move to impose a curfew, essentially trying to undermine our peaceful rally.”

Ms. Mangang’s expressions of disappointment didn’t end with the district administration. She also lamented the position taken by certain Meira Paibis who openly disapproved of their rally and even went as far as discouraging participation. “The very future of Manipur’s youth hangs in the balance,” she stressed. “Our intention behind the protest was to safeguard that future. It’s truly disheartening to see such statements from the Meira Paibis without them genuinely attempting to understand the essence of our protest.”

She then clarified the position of Khurai Pana’s youth. “We, the youth of Khurai Pana, stand in solidarity with all CSOs and fellow youth of Manipur, provided their protests align with democratic principles.” Ms. Mangang proceeded to enumerate the specific demands of their rally directed at the government. These included: the implementation of the NRC in Manipur, facilitating the return and resettlement of displaced individuals to their hometowns, a clear stance against granting separate administration, a firm commitment to eradicate narco-terrorism from Manipur, and an immediate guarantee to halt crimes against women and innocent children.

In response to whether the Meira Paibi from the Khurai area were informed about the appeal made by certain women to prohibit the rally, one Meira Paibi, who had actively participated in the protest, conveyed her unawareness. “We hadn’t heard of any such announcement. If we had, and it was a consensus decision, why would we be here supporting the youth?” she questioned.

She insinuated that some factions within the Meira Paibis, possibly influenced by political interests, might have made the announcement without a broader consensus. “Decisions taken under political influence without our knowledge are not representative of all Meira Paibis,” she emphasized.

Further solidifying the stance of the Meira Paibis, she said, “We stand firmly with our youth. We recognize that this is not a trivial or personal matter, but a significant issue concerning our state. We are and will always be at the forefront to support their initiatives.”

She then transitioned to criticizing the state government’s handling of the situation. “The unrest in Manipur began on May 3, and it’s been five long months. Realistically, the government had the means to resolve this within a mere 10 days. Instead, they’ve continued to prevaricate and mislead the public,” she lamented.