TODAY -

Secularism Under Threat - Some communalists out to create hatred
- Hueiyen Lanpao Editorial :: May 14, 2009 -



Unlike other states in the country, the plural society of Manipur has been relatively tolerant when it comes to religious matters. Except for a few isolated local issues, there has never been a riot between groups or communities in Manipur that primarily originated in religious matters.

As it is, there are different communities and groups of people in the state who follow different faiths. Being a multi-faith society, in Manipur there are Muslims, Meetei Hindus and Mayang Hindus, Meetei Sanamahi worshippers, Meetei Christians, tribal Christians, Jains, Budhists, Sikhs, other indigenous tribes who follow their traditional faiths, etc.

Therefore, like any other place in India where secularism is the foundation of social and political life, everyone is allowed to follow and practise his/her own faith freely, openly and without fear in Manipur as well.

No individual or group of people or organisation has ever been heard of and seen interfering in the practices and activities of other faiths in the state. Hindus practise and perform their religious activities freely, Muslims carry out their religious affairs openly and Christians go about their religious matters routinely without any interruption from any quarter.

Like that, other faiths are also being practised more or less in similar fashion. Yet, no activity that is close to being fundamentalist in religious matters can be seen in Manipur.

However, localised issues that primarily have to do with land feuds on construction of Church at certain locations come about here and there, and every now and then. Even then such controversy has never reached the size of a major issue that could rock the society, and being localised at a small pocket, the controversy got done away with locally.

But what had happened at Heingang hill, also known as Hannaba Cheeng in Imphal East district, where a shrine for the Meetei faith exists, just a few days back has shocked and saddened the Meeteis.

Some unknown anti-social elements broke into the "shanglen" in which the symbolic sacred stones of Lord Pakhangba and Goddess Laisana are housed and worshipped, and desecrated the sanctity of the place, took away the sacred stones and dropped them into the holy pond nearby.

The keeper of the shrine told reporters that such acts of flagrant desecration of the same shrine has happened seven or eight times in the past. This time the anti-social elements scribbled a communally provocative message on the wall of the "shanglen" saying that "Lai haraoba is celebration of Satan" and "the place had been handed to Muslims by Jagor and it belongs to Allah" and some other words in letters that look like Arabic.

From the manner and tone of the scribbles, people suspect that the act of desecration and vandalism might have been done by some anti-social elements of a minority community.

If it was done somewhere in Gujarat and UP or other state, a violent riot would have already broken out shedding a lot of blood. But it is good that nothing of that kind has happened here. As asserted earlier, ours is a tolerant society. We do not simply react and go on the rampage however serious the provocation may be.

In fact, Heingang hill's incident was a serious provocation. It seems that some people are out trying to make a Babri Masjid out of the Meetei shrine at Hannaba Cheeng. Such acts that might create communal tension and hatred must not be repeated.

Any truly religious person, of whichever faith he/she may be, will never indulge in such acts of provocation. No one should do anything to hurt the sentiments of people of other religious faith.

In the meanwhile, the state government must give up its discriminatory treatment towards the faiths of the indigenous people while at the same time pour all its favours on certain other faith that was forcibly imposed on the people of the state at one point of time in the history.





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