Joint Students’ Coordination Committee (JSCC) has announced Tuesday to boycott Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) from organising or hosting events associated with Manipuri history in the future for allegedly misrepresenting the history of the state.
JSCC is an umbrella group comprising of All Manipur Students’ Union (AMSU), Manipuri Students’ Federation (MSF), Kangleipak Students’ Association (KSA) and Students’ Union of Kangleipak (SUK).
The boycott is a fallout of the Patriots’ Day celebration hosted by the RSS wherein a picture depicting “Bharat Mata” was placed between the portraits of two freedom fighters of Manipur, Bir Tikendrajit and Thangal General, during a floral tribute. The picture, which went viral on social media, drew flak from people who termed it a cultural misappropriation and assimilation by the RSS.
August 13 is celebrated as Patriot’s Day in the state to commemorate the heroes who fought against the British during Anglo-Manipuri war.
Peter Laishram, JSCC convenor, vehemently condemned the alleged misleading of Manipuri history by the RSS even as he made the announcement to boycott the RSS.
Stating that RSS can no longer host or commemorate events associated with the history of the land, the JSCC convenor demanded a public apology from the organisers for their alleged attack on the unique history of Manipur.
“If RSS failed to apologise to the Manipuri people at the earliest many unwanted consequences may follow,” he cautioned.
Okram Romen, who is the convenor of the organising committee of the Patriots’ Day observation, clarified that they have no intention of misrepresenting the Manipuri history.
He said RSS is a nationalist organisation and similar photo of ‘Bharat Mata’ was placed in commemoration held last year.
The only change this year is that the photo is kept aligned with the freedom fighters because of the tight space, he explained.
RSS believes in the idea of building up nationalism by uniting the smaller communities through a common platform but keeping intact their unique identities, Romen further explained.
Romen contended that the ‘Bharat Mata’ depicted in the picture is not the geographical Indian nation but a symbolic representation of god for the RSS. “We feel that sacrifices made by the freedom fighters of Manipur are a part of ‘Bharat Mata’. Moreover, we believe that such representation of Manipur being a part of India will help bridge the trust deficit between the state and country,” he said.