The bloody protest in Manipur that resulted in the infamous June 18 massacre in 2001, also known as the Great June Uprising, will soon come alive on screen. Young filmmaker Mohen Naorem, who is making a documentary on the event, says his aim is to create awareness among youngsters so that they don`t forget the past.
The 50-minute documentary titled ‘The Uprising’ is not only a tribute to the 18 people who had laid down their lives for the cause of Manipur`s integrity in 2001 but also to make the younger generation aware about the historical event.
"Eleven years on, who remembers those brave Manipuris? Can someone from the younger generation tell me the name of one hero who was killed in the Great June uprising? I doubt. Only the family members remember their loved ones, who sacrificed their lives for the integrity of Manipur, their motherland," Naorem, the producer and director of the documentary, told reporters.
"We are planning to use the real video footage of the 2001 incident collected from various sources," he said, adding that he is planning to release the film by August.
On June 18, 2001, Manipur witnessed the biggest mass uprising when about 50,000 people came out to the streets opposing the centre`s decision to extend the ceasefire with the militant National Socialist Council of Nagaland (Isak-Muivah) to areas in the state.
The Manipuris saw the move as the beginning of an attempt to slice territory out of their state to be handed over to Nagaland as part of the NSCN-IM`s demand for a Greater Nagaland. (The NSCN-IM is led by Isak Chisi Swu and Thuingaleng Muivah). The protestors also torched the Manipur assembly building, the chief minister`s office, the speaker`s residence and other government establishments. A total of 18 protestors - a woman, three minors and 14 young men - were killed and many others were injured that day when the security forces eventually opened fire to quell the frenzied mob.
A massive civil disobedience movement followed and state capital Imphal was under curfew for nearly a month until July 24 when the then prime minister, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, announced that the ceasefire with the NSCN (IM) would once again be restricted only to Nagaland, as had been the case ever since it first came into force on Aug 1, 1997.
Every year, thousands of people gather around the memorial built in memory of the bravehearts at Kekrupat, located at the northern side of historical Kangla Fort, and take a pledge together to protect the territorial integrity of Manipur at any cost.
"Ten years have already passed after the historic day. We have been observing the day as Integrity Day every year after 2001. However, mere observance of the day is not sufficient," said Naorem, adding that his aim is to document the event for the coming generations of Manipuris.
"We want to teach the coming generation about the supreme sacrifice made by those 18 innocent people. If we could not keep a proper record, their contributions would be lost to history. We are not against any particular community or the government. The sole purpose of this documentary is to pay a tribute to those noble souls who were much ahead of us in sacrificing for the motherland," he added.