I would also like to hold the Manipur State Government responsible for such skewed narratives running rampant in the early days of the conflict.
By Urus Ningthemcha
First and foremost I would like to make it clear that I’m writing this open letter to all the media houses in the country as a commoner of Manipur. Also request you to not colour me up as someone with a lopsided view, biased towards certain section of Manipuri society. I’ve been witnessing most of the media houses in India pushing a one sided narrative which is a bit lenient towards the Kuki community since the last three months. I, being a Meetei would have loved to have an unbiased covering of the undesirable political conflict taking place in Manipur. Yes, it looks really good when the narrative that “a minority community is being hegemonized by the dominant majority community” is run across the media platforms of the country. It makes it easier to sensationalize the event to grab more eyeballs for TRP or readership. But as a Manipuri it really saddens me when this kind of uneven narrative is being pushed which defeats the very purpose of the existence of news media outlets in India. Also it damages the image of one community more than the other without actually bringing out the truth and hence finding it difficult to bring forth a solution to the crisis.
And partly I would also like to hold the Manipur State Government responsible for such skewed narratives running rampant in the early days of the conflict. From 4th May, 2023 onwards the internet was shut down in Manipur, later on it came to limelight that internet was not entirely banned in Churachandpur district throughout the first one and half month since the conflict broke out. Here, I would like to question the state machinery why such failure in executing the ban and also why the ban on internet in 21st century. These days the right to internet is akin to the right to basic human rights. Why in India this is the “go-to strategy” whenever some unrests take place? Doesn’t it show the lack of capability of containing a crisis without taking away the basic right to information, especially so in today’s time on the state’s part? This led to the Kukis having a massive advantage in propagating their false narrative left, right and centre. As a result the Meeteis were demonized in the initial days, thanks to some conscientious independent journalist and some renowned Meetei intellectuals the air was cleared a bit.
Even now it is a humongous task for Meeteis to debunk so many false narratives as the Kukis even tried to rewrite history in their favour many a time. The mainstream media are not even giving the political crisis in Manipur enough weightage, forget the media even the PM has kept mum throughout. He broke his silence only when a ghastly video went viral, at that time also he didn’t talk about ending the violence but maligned the Meeteis in front of the whole world. So, why this selective response? The next time he spoke was when the “no confidence motion” was raised by the opposition, at that time also he kept on blabbering about inconsequential matters till the time the opposition walked out. Only then he spoke on Manipur and ended with nothing to bet on. Here, I would like to point out that many horrible incidents took place on both the sides and if the media really want to bring out the truth then cover all and let the whole world know how terrifying and inhumane the crisis really is. And the best way to stop all these is to pressure the parliamentarians to take up some solid measures to end it all without further escalation.
My humble request to all the responsible media channels is to stop being so biased and try to comprehend the ground reality first before reporting anything. To do this you need to synthesize all the information coming from different sources after carefully filtering out the nonsense of any kind. You all also need not be so impatient for the scoops and jump the gun without realising the cultural, historical and political sensibilities of Manipur. I hope you have quite a clear idea on the impact that your coverage and reports are making worldwide and act accordingly. I simply want this cacophony to be over and have rationality back with all of us to be able to bring a solution to this crisis and have the old lovely and peaceful Manipur back.