Indian government’s reaction was, as expected, curt. In a reflex action, India slammed the European Parliament for its bold resolution on July 13th. The resolution condemns the ethnic violence in Manipur and urges India to take all necessary steps to halt the violence at once. The adoption of such a resolution is a sure sign of the surging global concerns over endless mayhem in India’s north-eastern state of Manipur.
Slamming the Nationalistic Rhetoric
The world’s real concerns are over the mayhem’s roots, which are stuck deep in religion. Many nations believe that, in India, ethno-communal violence is often sponsored by the Hindu nationalist government of prime minister Narendra Modi. As this belief gets bolstered by the European Parliament resolution, India seems terribly upset. Unable to stay passive, India is slamming the European Parliament for ‘interfering in its internal affairs.’ https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-66161599
An angry India, however, does not explain how voicing concerns over ethno-communal bloodshed is interference. The European Parliament’s resolution was tabled by five political groups, who together add up to about 80 percent of the 705-member house, and adopted by a show of hands in the plenary session. The resolution slammed ‘the nationalistic rhetoric’ of some leading lights of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) the prime minister Modi belongs to.
Video Courtesy: Hindustan Times
Blunt in Amplifying Apprehensions
The squeamish BJP lost no time in condemning the European Parliament’s resolution as ‘unacceptable reflection of a colonial mindset’. Mr Modi’s government assured global nations that “Indian authorities are taking steps to maintain peace and harmony.” However, not stopping there, India went on to taunt the European Parliament to utilise its time more productively on its internal issues. Mr Modi’s government looked clearly hurt. https://www.ndtv.com/india-news/reflects-colonial-mindset- india-on-eu-parliaments-resolution-on-manipur-4205263
In this hit-and-hurt politics, India failed to disclose how the ethno-religious violence has left Manipur’s religious minorities, Christians in particular, unprotected. Nor was there any mention of how over 60,000 have been displaced, 1,700 houses have been destroyed, over 142 have been killed and more than 250 churches have been torched to date. The European Parliament was blunt while amplifying its grave apprehensions in the resolution. https://reliefweb.int/report/india/india-violence-manipur-dg- echo-media-echo-daily-flash-03-july-2023
Touchiness Raises a Question
The resolution was unequivocal in condemning Manipur violence as a ‘politically motivated divisive policy promoting Hindu majoritarianism.’ In an inter-connected globe, attempting to integrate liberal and plural values is not a sin. Voicing serious concerns over breach of pluralistic values and democratic principles can never be an issue in a free nation. Yet, if India gets offended, it shows that India’s political masters are touchy and thin-skinned. https://poliphoon.com/is-this-a-state-sponsored-storm/
The touchiness raises an important question. When Mr Modi’s backers can condemn the attackers of Hindu temples in Australia, why cannot they recognise the European Parliament’s right to castigate Mr Modi’s government for the state-sponsored ethno-religious violence in Manipur? This question should singe them as the fires that began in May this year in Manipur have claimed more than 142 lives and Mr Modi, meanwhile, stays studiously silent. https://thewire.in/politics/modi-manmohan-silence-adani- manipur-lac
Trying to Deflect Scrutiny
As the hostility between the Meitei and the Kuki-Naga-Zo communities does not show any sign of cooling, global scrutiny had to happen. India is now trying to deflect the scrutiny by saying that the European Parliament does not understand the violence in Manipur and wrongly calls it a Hindu-Christian conflict. The tragedy is that Mr Modi’s supporters are going a step further by accusing the West for branding the violence in Manipur as religious persecution.
Sadly, their arguments are not convincing as Manipur violence has left minority places of worship vandalised. The world knows the conflict is between Hindu Meiteis and Christian Kukis, Nagas and Zos. Yet, partisan political analysts in India love to argue that Manipur violence is only a natural response to the direction of the single-judge Bench in the High Court to include the Meiteis in the list of Scheduled Tribes of the state. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2023_Manipur_violence
Nothing More than a Worried Spectator
They are wrong. The court direction was only an excuse and an opportunity to give expression to Manipur’s long-suppressed animosities. The Nagas are also upset over the court decision. However, the murders and the mayhem have left the Nagas untouched, as they hit the Kuki-Zo and the Meitei communities. In reality, the violence got out of hand as ethnic polarisation was running deep and no amount of reconciliation could usher in peace among the warring groups.
This distrust continues to fester. Sowing hatred among communities and exacerbating their socio-economic disparities deserve global condemnation. More so when this communal conspiracy has the backing of the national and the state governments controlled by the BJP. The deliberate inaction of the Manipur state’s BJP chief minister N Biren Singh proves the governments’ complicity in the carnage. The European Parliament was only a worried spectator expressing its concerns. https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/dissent-brews-against-cm-biren-singh-over-violence-in-manipur- 101687286863785.html
Pow-Wows Part of a Larger Debate
As the Hindu-nationalist BJP seems to gain electorally from the conflict, the European Parliament was right to infer that Manipur violence has been lit by religious discord. The European Parliament resolution, which dubs the violence as ‘a result of divisive policies promoting Hindu majoritarianism,’ is thus not wrong. Hitting at the resolution as interference in India’s internal affairs is nothing more than a futile attempt to deflect and distract. https://poliphoon.com/is-this-a-state-sponsored-storm/
Here is why Mr Modi’s party should study the Parliament’s discussions which led to the resolution. These pow-wows were part of a larger debate on violations of rule of law, human rights and democracy. The Manipur violence happened to figure in the discussions as it was current and topical. Though the deliberations happened in Strasbourg in France, miles away from Asia, the European Parliament could see through ‘the nationalistic rhetoric deployed by leading members of the BJP party”. This shows India and its ruling political party in poor light. https://www.europarl.europa.eu/news/en/agenda/briefing/20 23-07-10/19/resolutions-on-human-rights-and-democracy
Demand for a Separate State
Particularly notable here is the resolution’s call for restoration of internet in Manipur and withdrawal of the draconian Armed Forces Special Powers Act, an anti-insurgent law that is often misused. It is amply clear why Mr Modi’s party is not amused by the resolution. Meanwhile, on 12th July, the apex body of Kuki tribes made a demand for a separate Kuki state. The demand is driven by the gripping fear that the Kukis will be hounded out of their homes eventually. https://www.telegraphindia.com/north-east/kuki-body- demands-separate-state-cites-article-3-of-indian- constitution/cid/1951898
As Manipur’s Kukis explode in anger, the European Parliament resolution comes after the liberal-democrats’ boycott of Mr Modi’s speech to the US Congress in June. These protesters went on to denounce India for its poor human rights record. Coming so soon after these protests, the European parliament’s resolution sounds extra-ominous. Adopting the resolution just hours after Mr Modi had landed in France for an official visit has only magnified global concerns. The world is sure intolerance of minorities is behind Manipur’s seemingly unending ethno-communal crisis.