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As the tumultuous winds of ethnic conflict swept across Manipur, the academic landscape was not spared from its wrath. The unfolding violence since May 3 has cast a long shadow over the educational pursuits of students, particularly those belonging to the Zo tribal communities. They found themselves amidst a storm of violence where their identities as students were threatened, their academic credentials torched, and their hopes for a brighter future dimmed.
In the face of adversity, the Joint Students Body (JSB) Lamka emerged as a glimmer of hope. Formed on June 4, 2023, JSB Lamka, a federation of all student organizations in Lamka (Churachandpur), embarked on a mission to bridge the educational chasm widened by the ongoing conflict. The discrimination was blatant; while the Manipur government expedited arrangements for displaced Meitei students, the Zo community’s pleas for educational continuity fell on deaf ears.
JSB Lamka didn’t just stop at voicing concerns; it galvanized into action, standing as a formidable force against the tide of educational disruption. The Wall of Remembrance, constructed by the JSB, isn’t just a memorial; it’s a symbol of resilience, a reminder of the indomitable spirit of the Zo community amidst the anguish and loss.
The Silent March-cum-Condolence Program on June 24 was more than a tribute to the tribal martyrs; it was a vivid embodiment of the collective mourning and an unwavering resolve for justice. The event resonated with the cries for an end to the violence that has snuffed out innocent lives and snatched away the dreams of numerous students.
As the days rolled into nights, each marked by unabated Meitei atrocity, JSB Lamka’s dedication to the Zo students’ cause didn’t waver. On August 10, the Mass Protest to mark 100 Days of Genocide and Resistance was not just a demonstration of defiance but a stark reminder of the unyielding spirit of the Zo community.
The plight of the Zo students echoed through the corridors of power as JSB Lamka orchestrated protests, penned down letters to authorities, and vehemently opposed the insensitive decisions such as the premature resumption of classes amidst the ongoing crisis. Their demands extended from transfer of displaced students to Central Universities to the establishment of a Central University in tribal areas.
JSB Lamka’s crusade against the selective justice prevalent in Manipur was not just about exposing the lies spun by the state government; it was about reclaiming the truth, about standing tall against the skewed narrative aimed at demonizing the Zo villagers defending their homes.
With each passing day, as JSB Lamka continues its relentless efforts, from retrieving educational certificates to arranging transport for exam-attending students, it embodies the undying hope amidst the despair engulfing the Zo community. It’s not merely an organization; it’s a movement, a beacon of hope illuminating the path of resilience, justice, and an unwavering pursuit of education.
The journey is arduous, the challenges manifold, but as JSB Lamka marches forward with unwavering resolve, it epitomizes the adage, ‘where there’s a will, there’s a way.’ The story of JSB Lamka is a testimony to the indomitable spirit of the Zo community and a lesson in resilience, unity, and the transformative power of education even in the face of adversities.