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Former Manipur Police Services (MPS) officer, Thounaojam Brinda, finds herself mired in controversy following allegations of defaming the Meitei community in a voice clip that went viral on social media. In the contentious clip, Brinda accused two radical Meitei groups, Arambai Tenggol and Meitei Leepun, of playing pivotal roles in the recent spate of violence that has gripped Manipur. Further, she implicated Chief Minister N Biren Singh in the arson activities carried out in Churachandpur district and alleged that the Arambai Tenggol were behind the disgraceful act of parading two Kuki-Zo women naked.
The clip has unleashed a storm of indignation among the Meitei community, who have demanded either substantive evidence for these claims or a public apology from Brinda. In a show of protest, numerous Meitei Leepun members converged at Brinda’s residence in Imphal West, urging her to withdraw her statements. Subsequently, Brinda acknowledged her misinformation, attributing it to a video she encountered on social media, and extended an apology for any hurt she might have caused to the Meitei community.
However, the apology has failed to quell the outrage, particularly from the Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM), the youth wing of the BJP, which is now clamoring for legal action against Brinda. The BJYM Manipur unit president, Manoharmayum Barish Sharma, has called upon the state police to file an FIR against Brinda for what he perceives as an attempt to besmirch the Meitei community and sow seeds of communal discord. Sharma also criticized Brinda for presuming to speak on behalf of the Kuki-Zo community, asserting that they have their own established representatives and organizations.
Adding fuel to the fire, the BJYM has rallied for the revocation of Brinda’s gallantry award, conferred upon her in 2018 for her instrumental role in dismantling a drug racket linked to a former BJP MLA’s son. The BJYM contends that Brinda’s alleged breach of service rules and code of conduct, manifested through her accusations against the Chief Minister and the Meitei community, renders her undeserving of the accolade.
The underpinning of violence in Manipur, traced back to a clash over a land dispute in Churachandpur district, has since proliferated across the state, manifesting in arson, vandalism, and stone-pelting. The chaos has prompted the state government to enforce a curfew and deploy security forces in a bid to reestablish law and order. The toll of the violence is staggering, with at least 170 lives lost and over 10,000 individuals injured.
This episode involving Brinda accentuates the simmering tensions and the complex socio-political tapestry of Manipur. The backlash against her underscores the heightened sensitivities and the potential for misinformation to exacerbate the already volatile situation. Moreover, it brings to the fore the challenging dynamics between different community groups, the state administration, and individual citizens in navigating the tumultuous terrain of public discourse, particularly in times of crisis.
Furthermore, the demand for legal action against Brinda and the call for rescinding her gallantry award symbolize the intertwined nature of political affiliations, community identities, and the pursuit of justice in Manipur. The incident serves as a stark reminder of the imperative for accurate information, responsible communication, and an empathetic understanding of the diverse perspectives that constitute the socio-political landscape in Manipur.
As the aftershocks of the viral clip continue to reverberate through the state, there is an overarching need for a balanced and constructive dialogue among all stakeholders. The path towards reconciliation and healing in Manipur necessitates a collective effort to foster a culture of respect, understanding, and open communication among its diverse communities. Amidst the ongoing strife, the unfolding narrative surrounding Brinda highlights the broader challenges and the imperative for a nuanced approach in addressing the complex issues facing Manipur.