Congress MLA of Mizoram, R. Vanlalvena has said that the people of Mizoram will never hesitate to extend their support to the tribals in Manipur particularly the Zo tribe and their genuine cause and efforts towards unification.
The Mizoram MLA was addressing a gathering at Khuga Dam in Churachandpur district while unveiling the “Tribal Martyrs Memorial” monument on Friday to mark the 3rd anniversary of Tribal Unity Day. On August 31, 2015, nine individuals were killed in Churachandpur when police opened fire upon a group of people holding a protest against the passing of three alleged “anti-tribal” bills by the former Congress Government. The monument is dedicated to those who lost their lives in the police firing.
Thousands of tribals from different parts of the state and neighbouring state of Mizoram including tribe leaders, politicians etc attended the ‘Tribal Unity Day’ event.
R. Vanlalvena who is also the president of Aizawl District Congress Committee felt that the tribal people need to cement their bond and not succumb to petty misunderstandings. Unless they (tribal) stand united any attempt of unification, even with the intervention of a third party will turn futile, he asserted.
“If they unite as one, they can grow and develop without the help from outside. Their unification will help guide the next generation to a better future”, Vanlalvena added.
According to the Manipur Government, the Bills were passed to regulate and check influx of immigrants in the state. The passing of the bills, however, angered the tribal particularly the Zo (Chin-Kumi-Zomi/Mizo) tribes alleging that the bills had infringed the rights of the tribal living in the state and it had ignited a massive protest.
The Joint Action Committee (JAC), who led the protest against Anti-Tribal Bills, refused to bury the bodies until the government withdrew the contentious bills — Protection of Manipur People bill, Manipur Land Revenue and Land Reforms (7th Amendment) bill and the Manipur Shops and Establishments (2nd Amendment) Bill.
The protest ended on May 2017 after the BJP-led coalition government came into power and signed an agreement with the JAC. Subsequently, the bodies of the nine individuals were laid to rest at the Martyr Park on May 25.
While the President of India rejected one of the Bills in 2016, the remaining two were withdrawn by the BJP government on July 23, 2018.
‘Tribal Unity Day’ signifies triumph over the anti-tribal campaign of the Manipur government, said H. Mangchinkhup chief convener JAC. However, the threats and discrimination to the tribals is not yet over, he said.
“We are living in Manipur, anything can happen anytime. This sense of apprehension has been prevailing for so many years now. Our strength and unity has been tested and we are ready to face any eventuality”, said Mangchingkhup.
The unveiling of the monument, a grand statue depicting the nine victims, was marked with a traditional gun salute. A floral tribute was also paid by the victim’s families, and well-wishers offered prayers in memory of the departed souls.
Father of Thangjalen Phaipi, one of the victims, said that he was overwhelmed on seeing the statues dedicated to the martyrs. “I feel very happy and emotional at the same time”, he said. Phaipi said that he is proud of his son who sacrificed his life for the people.
Leaders of the political parties like Mizo National Front, Zoram people Movement, who attended the event also assured to extend their full co-operation to the Zo (Chin-Kumi-Zomi/Mizo) tribal group.
PC Lalrinlua said MNF fights for Zo nationalism, unity and freedom of the Zo in different places. “We have come to Manipur with a hope and vision of Zo unification, MNF wishes to see the Zo people, wherever they are, with a common vision”, he said.