Whose sister is it anyway?

H Hamyep Shongtok
Principal, Phom Lempong HSS Longleng

The seven states of North East India are known by its sobriquet ‘Land of the Seven Sisters’. It was coined by Jyoti Prasad Saikia, a journalist in Tripura, in the course of a radio talk show because of its interdependence, commonness, and contagiousness of seven states.Today it comprises 8 states namely Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Tripura - often called “The Seven Sisters”, and Sikkim - referred to as the “Brother” to the seven states.Geographically, North-Eastern states are isolated and disconnected from rest of the India.  1The only access to the North Eastern states is through the chicken’s neck of the Siliguri corridor. Time and again, the North-Eastern region is plagued with political as well as ethnic-related problems. Many parts of the region in an event of independence and demand of separate states fall into a cycle of civil wars turning the region into a battleground that will create multiple humanitarian crises.  2This article is not an extensive analysis, itis to provoke the minds of“Seven sisters and one brother” on the recent issue of Manipur and the march towards restoring peace.

Today, the ethnic violence in the state of Manipur has grabbed the attention of both international and national news.Since 3rd May 2023, Manipur has been burning intensely due to ethnic violence in the state. It’s been two months now and, we do not see a flicker of hope of normalizing the situation in the state, especially in the bordering areas of Meiteis and Kukis. Of course, state Police forces and Army are working at their best to normalize the situation but their effort seems to be in vain because of the best reason known to them. The state government’s effort in restoring peace is a total fiasco and, the central government vis-a-vis the Prime Minister of India, the state’s only hope, is Silent! In a speech by Assam Chief Minister on 1st June 2023, said “The situation in neighbouring Manipur will improve within 7-10 days, with the State and Central Governments working ‘silently’ to restore peace”3. I do not know how far they have worked silently to restore peace in the state.Within 7-10 daysthe situation has escalated to a full-scale civil war.As per the report from EastMojo, a digital news media platform,“Warring groups use quadcopters to target each other”.The ethnic violence seems to havenow germinated into a highly techno-war.Much innocent life has been loston both sides and many are displaced. Educational institutions in most of the affected regions have been closed down since the violence started. Human rights are violating on daily bases. Now for both groups peace comes through the barrel of agun.

Peace is what both the groups and people of Manipur need right now. When one of our sisters is crying for peace, the so-called “Six sisters” seems to be peacefully minding their own business without bothering about what is happening in our neighbouring state; the religious leaders are trapped and busy discussing Uniform Civil Code, NGOs Leaders, andChief Ministers of the remaining six states from North-East India are busy building their empires. So, the question is, whose sister is it anyway? Is not Manipurone of the sisters of North-Eastern states? Let’s not be containedin the little humanitarian work you and I have done for the displaced people and like manner. It is crystal clear that the Peace effort of the Manipur state government is in vain due to the best reason known to them.Amidst the disabled government, is it not high time for the six sisters and one brother state to voice against the central government for being silent and for prolongingviolence in the state of Manipur?orArewe waiting for more blood to shed and more life to lose?Why are we silently witnessing the unrest situation in Manipur? Is the Union of Independent North-Eastern States a hypothetical statement? To exist the statement of “Land of Seven-sisters” in real life is to unite and bring peace to the state. Let’s wake up my dear Chief Ministers, NGOs Leaders, and Religious Leaders and restore peace in our neighbouring state. 

Dietrich Bonhoeffer said “Silence in the face of evil is itself evil”.