Imphal, 22nd June 2016
Shri H. Mangchinkhup,
The Chief Convenor, The Joint Action Committee Against Anti-Tribal Bills, Churachandpur, Manipur
Subject: Clarification to JACAATB about the alleged misquote.
On June 20th, five of us visited JACAATB’s office at KKL Complex, Churachandpur to submit a petition, which was initiated online to create a platform for a dialogue between JCILPS and the JACAATB. We have seen the press release issued by JACAATB on 21/06/2016 about the alleged ‘misquote’ and wanted to clarify the same.
Before visiting the JACAATB’s office in Churachandpur on the same date, we had submitted a Memorandum to the Chief Minister’s office requesting his mediation to ‘facilitate a dialogue between the JCILPS and the JACAATB’. A copy of the same was shared with you in our meeting. A similar copy of the Memorandum was shared with the Committee of JCILPS, whom we met later in the day. We also submitted a printed copy of the petition which requests for a dialogue between JCILPS and the JACAATB, the list of signatories and some of the comments from amongst the signatories to the JACAATB.
As stated in our meeting, we had underlined the objective of our visit, which we reiterate, to submit a petition requesting the JACAATB and the JCILPS to have a dialogue for peace. As mentioned in our petition also, we are indeed genuinely concerned about the current situation prevailing in Manipur. We think that a dialogue between the JCILPS and the JACAATB might be able to bring about an amicable solution to the problems. With this thought and with the intention of bringing about an amicable solution to the current impasse, we initiated this online petition to the JCILPS and the JACAATB to request both the committees to sit together and have a dialogue for peace in Manipur. In just a few days, more than 500 people signed the petition after which we decided to submit the petition physically, along with a memorandum to the Chief Minister to initiate this said dialogue.
As was rightfully mentioned in the press release, during the course of the meeting, we discussed about the present situation, the many grievances that the JAC has against the Government of Manipur, for their neglect, for sending the all political party delegation to Delhi while ignoring the JACAATB’s charter of demands. The respected Chief Convener and his colleagues rightly expressed their frustration on the slack by the present Government and their refusal to send a team to hold dialogues in a democratic set up. We also appreciate your willingness to convene for a discussion with the Government, should they create a platform.
The team expressed their desire to issue a press note on this ground breaking meeting with the hope that such an action would drive public support and thereby generating pressures to all parties involved, which will in turn, impress upon the government to initiate a meaningful dialogue process at the earliest. We also requested a quote from the Chief Convenor on behalf of the JACAATB for the press release. The team also showed a draft of the press release, including a quote from the Chief Convenor about the JAC’s readiness for dialogue if the government initiates, before leaving the KKL office to the JAC members including the Chief Convenor, for your consent, even stating that if there was any point to which the JAC don’t subscribe, the team will not send out the press release. After going through the draft of the press release, the JAC consented to the press statement.
Needless to say, we should have shared the final press release with the JAC, before we sent it out to the media houses for your approval, and we deeply regret that decision. On hindsight we’d like to admit that we were overwhelmed by the day’s events of simultaneously meeting up both the committees members and disseminating the same to the public which gave room for the error. We also admit that your statement of “willing to talk if the Government initiates” could have been misread by us.
On introspection, we believe that you might have responded to our “request for dialogue”, with reference to the Government of Manipur not responding to your charter of demands for 6 long months and the JACAATB’s willingness to talk if the Government initiates such a step.
On our part, our visit and the petition we submitted to you and the JCILPS was a fervent prayer for dialogue between the two committees. The memorandum we submitted to the Chief Minister, a copy of which we shared with you as well, was to request his office to initiate this dialogue between the two parties.
This misquote was a genuine faux pas by the few of us who visited the JACAATB, and we are deeply regretful. However, it is our request to you and your committee members that while this had caused inconveniences, please do keep your enthusiasm and trust on the many who are part of this signature campaign with the intention to build bridges, whose heartfelt desire is to bring peace, harmony and, brotherhood in Manipur.
We want to acknowledge again that the present situation in Manipur is very tense, and because of the mistrust and divide, that any action/inaction by any group with regards to the current impasse is bound to be seen or viewed with suspicion. We want to reiterate that we started this petition for dialogue between the two parties with only good intention, to explore ways to ease the situation.
Ringo Pebam, Devakishor Soraisam, Sonia Nepram, Paonam Thoibi, Vandana Mutum