Churachandpur- In Churachandpur, a district-level rally led by a students collective, took place on Saturday November 11, in the New Lamka area, approximately 60 km from Imphal, Manipur's capital. The students, unified under the banner of the Joint Students Body, Lamka, submitted a memorandum outlining their demands to the Deputy Commissioner, Churachandpur, as well as Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union Home Minister Amit Shah, Justice Geeta Mittal Committee Chairman, Dr. Vineet Joshi, and the Chief Secretary of the Government of Manipur.
Themed as the 'Rally against Academic Negligence,' the event drew a substantial turnout, with students participating from various educational institutions and coaching centers in Lamka.
Thong Thangsing, the Vice President (External) at the General Headquarters of the Zomi Students Federation, reported that around 25 thousand students were part of this significant rally. The diverse group included individuals pursuing various fields such as MBBS, NIT, MIT, job aspirants, coaching class students, as well as high school, college, and nursing students. Notably, participants also included victims of burnt certificates, symbolizing the challenges faced by the community.
In a heartfelt appeal to address the pressing issues faced by the 'Zo' tribal students affected by the ongoing unrest in Manipur, the collective plea was made, highlighting the severity of the challenges faced by this marginalized community. In the memorandum Convenor Nengzalian Tonsing and Joint-Secretary Samuel Taithul wrote, the Zo tribes, already victims of ethnic cleansing, have witnessed a disturbingly systematic targeting of their students, who are now demanding urgent attention to their plight.
The ethnic cleansing in the state has spared no section of Zo society, with students being one of the most ruthlessly targeted groups. Reports indicate that these students have not only been forcibly displaced from the valley districts but have also faced heinous acts, including torture, rape, and even death. Personal belongings, certificates, and essential documents have been destroyed, leaving many without the means to continue their education.
The JSB letter highlighted the contributions of the Zo youth and asserted that Lamka or Churachandpur district has been one of the biggest contributors to various state and central government services, including the various Armed Forces. The letter read, "In order to secure the future of our students and ensure that they can continue to contribute to national life and ensure that our youth, our students are insulated from the murderous and communal tendencies of the majority Meiteis and that they do not have to return to Imphal or any of the Valley districts which have become for us, the Valley of Death," JSB, Lamka demands the following:
Establishment of a Central University in Lamka, Churachandpur District: To provide accessible higher education opportunities for the tribal students.
Establishment of Technical and Higher Educational Institutes in Hill Districts: To ensure that the students have access to a diverse range of educational opportunities closer to their homes.
Disbursal of Funds for Tribal Empowerment: A call for the equitable distribution of funds and benefits under the Ministry of Tribal Affairs to organizations based in hill districts and led by tribal individuals.
Expedited Completion of Churachandpur Medical College (CMC): Urging the speedy completion of the medical college project to meet the healthcare needs of the community.
" While we continue to support the efforts and demands of our leaders for a political solution, we resolve to continue our fight for justice - the other name for which is, “Total Separation from Manipur”, read the concluding lines of the appeal.
In August, The Mooknayak had reported from Churachandpur on the ground about the education of tribal students who had been living in relief camps for months, describing how the students wanted to go back to their schools in the hope of a peaceful environment. We had also mentioned that why till now the government has not been serious about education in the Kuki dominated area situated in the hills.