06/22/2023, 13.10
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Manipur: Sonia Gandhi appeals for peace. Accuses the BJP of 'divisive politics'.

by Nirmala Carvalho

In a video message, the former Congress leader speaks of an 'unprecedented' event that 'devastated' people's lives and caused a 'deep wound' in the nation's conscience. People forced to flee their homes, long-time brothers and sisters and now driven to 'turn against each other'. The responsibilities of the central and state governments that 'must' maintain law and order.

Delhi (AsiaNews) - The escalation of violence in Manipur, relegated to the sidelines of national affairs for too many weeks, is beginning to worry even the country's highest authorities.

Yesterday, most recently, Sonia Gandhi, former president of the Indian Congress Party, intervened, calling for peace and an end to ethnic and sectarian tensions. What has happened is of an 'unprecedented' magnitude, stressed one of the most authoritative voices of the opposition party, and has 'devastated' people's lives, leaving 'a deep wound' in the conscience of the entire nation. 

The Indian state of Manipur, in north-east India, has been shaken since the beginning of May by serious violence fuelled by tensions between the Meitiei ethnic group (predominantly Hindu) and the hill tribal communities (predominantly Christian).

In recent days, the archbishop of Imphal, Mgr Dominic Lumon, had also intervened, emphasising that the clashes continue while the State 'is no longer present' and has lost control of the situation on the ground.

In a video message shared by the Congress on social media yesterday, its former president and most charismatic figure expressed 'sadness' that people were forced to flee 'the only place they called home'.

The inhabitants, she continued, had to leave behind "everything they had built" over the course of their lives. "It is heartbreaking," he says, "to see our brothers and sisters who have lived together peacefully turn on each other.

Continuing in the message, Gandhi quinti stated that Manipur's history testifies to its ability to welcome people of all ethnicities, religions and backgrounds by offering 'myriad' possibilities in the context of a 'diverse society' within it.

"It takes tremendous trust and goodwill to nurture the spirit of brotherhood, and a single misstep to fan the flames of hate and divisiveness," she noted. "Today, we are at vital crossroads. Our choice to embark on the path of healing will shape the kind of future that our children will inherit. I appeal to the people of Manipur, especially my brave sisters, to lead the way in bringing peace and harmony to this beautiful land,"

The former Congress leader said that, as a mother, she understands "their pain" and appealed to everyone's conscience and goodwill to pave the way for dialogue, confrontation and peace between the different communities. "It is my sincere hope," Gandhi said in closing the video message, just over two minutes long, "that over the coming weeks and months, we will set out on the long journey of rebuilding trust and emerge stronger from this trial. I have immense hope and faith in the people of Manipur and I know that together we will overcome this ordeal."

On the political and parliamentary front, the Cogress accused the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP, PM Narendra Modi's Indian People's Party) of fuelling 'divisive politics' in Manipur. Its leadership attacked the central executive and the state administration, which, in their view, had failed 'in its duty to maintain law and order' in the north-eastern state.

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