Mizoram: ZORO members hold protest against Manipur violence

Aizawl: Protestors in Mizoram burned effigies of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Manipur chief minister N Biren Singh during a protest organised by the Zo Reunification Organization, on Wednesday at Aizawl.

The protest was held to show solidarity towards the suffering of the Zo tribe in Manipur. Scorching heat enveloped the atmosphere as flames of burning effigies roared higher.

Around 300 people circled the burning effigies of Manipur Chief Minister Biren Singh, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the alleged killer of David Thiek. Protestors shouted and yelled in anger as they showed their solidarity to their fellow tribesmen in the neighboring state. Effigies of state leaders were also lit as a symbol of the people’s collective outrage.

Popularly known as ZORO, the organisation had earlier organised a rally in the last week of May, where they passed several resolutions including measures to be taken for the re-unification of ethnic Zo tribes to bring them under one administrative setup through peaceful means.

On Wednesday, three resolutions were adopted during the rally. One resolution was that ZORO stands in solidarity with their brothers and sisters in Manipur who have lost their lives, properties, livelihoods, and their fight for survival and demand for a separate administration.

The second was to make an appeal to the Indian Government to give the Zo ethnic people in Manipur a separate administration. Its third resolution was to work towards the unity of Zo ethnic people all over the world. 

At the rally, ZORO President R Sangkawia highlighted various ways in which the Kuki tribes were allegedly neglected by the state leaders in Manipur and questioned the silence of the central government saying, “Does India consider the Zo people as foreigners that it has neglected us to this extent?”

Dr Rini Ralte, secretary of the Zo Reunification Organisation Refugee also questioned the silence of the Central government. “We are coming together to express our anger towards the central government for their silence,” Ralte told EastMojo.

The tribal leader said that it has been 71 days of silence-a long wait for the people. “It is too long for the Prime Minister to speak up. His one word of peace can bring peace, why is he refusing until now. Last Saturday, there was a dharna in Churachanpur where women wore black outfits-a black protest to have a funeral of our prime minister because they don’t know where he is, whether he is alive or not because he has been silent. He has no voice, he has no mouth, he has no spine to carry on the responsibility, so we are coming together today as ZORO in Aizawl to be in solidarity with our suffering brothers and sisters in Manipur,” the leader said.

Ralter said that they are only demanding their due right to have a separate administration, alleging that the Meitei community do not want the tribals anymore. “What is the point of coming together if they don’t want them anymore? This is the only option they have,” Ralte said. 

The Prime Minister’s effigy was marked with a tape on his lips to display his alleged silence on the Manipur violence as the ZORO condemned the silence over the issue. Manipur chief Minister’s effigy was given a title, Mafia Godfather. An official said that burning of Singh’s effigy was a display that “he deserves to die”.

As the effigy lit up, the crowd went into a fury shouting curses in Manipuri language against the leader. 

Apart from burning effigies, a mass prayer was conducted where all the people who gathered, shouted and cried in unison for the violence in Manipur. Amid a solemn atmosphere, a mourning session commenced, with the ringing of a gong, evoking ancient traditions and conveying messages of sorrow. 

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Among the protestors were displaced residents of Manipur. Among them was a college student Lalremruat Tonsing from Lamka, Manipur. “We gather here to show our solidarity in remembrance of our fathers, our brothers, our sisters, our mothers who are fighting at the cost of their lives to protect our lands, our rights and to protect our god-given tribal land,” he told EastMojo.

The student said that they were forced to take shelter in Aizawl because the education system back in Manipur had collapsed. “We can no longer go to college, and we are only left with the choice of getting out of town and starting a future here so that we can get education to build our land and our administration. We are left with no choice. Our brothers and our sisters are fighting there in Lamka. Every second of our life here is used up in our thoughts of them and today, the least we can do is to gather here, holding up placards and shouting for our land,” Tonsing said.

According to data shared by ZORO, the number of deaths in Manipur tolled over 124, with over 377, and 60 missing. The number of villages burnt, as per the tribal body, accounted to 290, with 7247 houses burnt, 357 churches and quarters burnt, and about 41425 displaced. 

Also Read |Mizoram Zo-Kuki group to protest ethnic violence in Manipur

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