“At the end of the day, it’s truism…,” is what one often hears Karan Thapar saying every time when one turns to YouTube to watch his current ‘reporting’ on violent ethnic clashes in Manipur. No doubt, he is probably among the first mainstream journalists who have been continuously following the crisis and updating himself with his pace of interviews ranging from the so-called victims to politicians to academicians, especially from both sides of the warring parties. With his dominating style and eloquent British accent, most of the interviewees get trapped or rather fall victim to his uncanny attitude.
So far, Thapar has interviewed more than 10 people from both the Kuki and Meitei communities who shared their views on whether or not they were “bold” and “independent” and sometimes “defied” like the journalist loves to describe himself.
As a student of journalism and someone who followed the crisis from day one, it’s clearly understood that the violence was “officially” started on May 3 in Churachandpur. I say “official” because the actual killings and mayhem began on May 3, but the actual arson began at least a few days before, during which nearly a dozen government offices, especially forest offices were burnt. However, like almost everyone else, I thought the arson and sloganeering against the state government and ‘Biren Singh’, was all about the ‘Scheduled Tribe Demand’ by the Meiteis and a Manipur High Court order to the state government regarding the same. Well, I was wrong and so was everyone, I believe. So what was the actual reason why our Kuki brothers were exasperated against the Manipur government and Biren Singh? The actual cause, as they said, first of all, is Biren Singh is anti-Kukis/tribals and the Manipur government has uprooted hundreds of Kuki villagers from the forest. Let’s assume that’s reasonable and they have a right to protect themselves from any threat, coercion and intimidation from either the government or anti-social elements. And why suddenly they are demanding a ‘separate administration’ from Manipur? Well, that sounds unreasonable.
India is a democratic country and has a vibrant rule of law. If the Kukis had grievances, of course they do, and had a point to make; they should have approached appropriate forums. Unfortunately, they didn’t. They thought arson, guns and forcing Meiteis to flee their homes from areas dominated by them would make their grievances heard. Sadly, it didn’t, instead Meiteis reacted sharply. The rest is history.
On the other hand, what the Kukis haven’t told or hate to disclose is why they are up in arms, particularly against Biren Singh and his government. Or was there any undisclosed business connection between Biren Singh and some Kuki leaders? Certainly, we don’t know and I am sure those Kuki leaders won’t either.
The interesting fact of the matter is both those Kuki interviewees and Thapar haven’t talked about drugs so far. Simply poppy. They both know it and also they hate to discuss it. As we understand, the role of the media is so huge. It can destroy and uplift a society at the same time. Being in the profession for over 40 years and having interviewed hundreds of people ranging from doctors, politicians, businessmen, scientists, and occasionally Nobel laureates… as Thapar claims, he knows how journalists are shaping society and how they act. Then how come a veteran journalist like him tends to forget or ignore those calls on narco-terrorism by the other opposite?
Whether it’s intentional or simply ignoring the issue about Poppy/drugs is his discretion, after all. But, as Mr Bishwadeep Gupta of KRC Times, which Thapar once quoted in one of his interviews told me, every journalist or media has their own motive and agenda. I am not sure Thapar has an agenda when he interviews someone, especially regarding the present crisis. But I believe he will do it one day. Also, I believe that like me, Thapar and Kuki brothers won’t definitely desire Manipur to become another golden triangle.