Ima Keithel

Guwahati, February 10, 2019:

More than 1000 women slept on the streets in Manipur as a mark of protest against the controversial Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2016. The location of the protest was the iconic Ima Keithel market, the 500-year old market run by women located in the heart of capital Imphal.  Surely, such a sight would warrant national media headlines? Perhaps some debates? The women who braved the cold overnight by sleeping on the streets are neither beggars nor are they homeless people. They are the indigenous mothers and daughters of the Northeast.

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With the fate of the entire Northeast hanging in the balance with the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill being readied to be tabled at the Rajya Sabha, intense and sustained protests are being carried out in the state of Manipur under the aegis of MANPAC (Manipur People against Citizenship Amendment Bill).

The people of the Northeast feel that they are being bullied into submission by the Centre’s resolute stance on ramming the Bill down the collective conscious of the Northeast. The non-violent and democratic protests are yet to move the BJP administration regarding the issue of the Bill, but they are certainly raising more awareness among the people.

Finally, the women of Manipur have emerged as one of the final lines of resistance against the Bill and their contribution to the resistance will be spoken of in the ages to come, irrespective of whether the Bill is passed or not.

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