His “prejudiced” statement has hurt hill dwellers’ sentiments, Thadou Students’ Association says
GUWAHATI: A Manipur students’ body has sought a public apology from senior Congress leader and Rajya Sabha member Jairam Ramesh for hurting the sentiments of the State’s hill dwellers by “implicating” they are poppy cultivators.
Referring to a news report, Mr. Ramesh on August 31 tweeted: “Manipur is getting TWICE the supply of urea it needs and yet farmers complain of shortage! Why? Because urea is diverted to hill areas in Manipur, where poppy is being grown for opium in large areas in last 4 yrs. The State Govt is fully complicit in this.”
In a statement on Wednesday, the Thadou Students’ Association said Mr. Ramesh made a “prejudiced” statement that hurt the sentiments of the hill people for labelling them as poppy growers.
Poppy has been cultivated in Manipur since the early 2000s when the Congress-led government was in power in the State. The earlier government had never undertaken an anti-drug campaign and it was only in 2018 that N. Biren Singh’s BJP-led government launched a war on drugs, the association pointed out.
“As for urea, the shortage has been highlighted every year irrespective of which party forms the government. Moreover, the season for paddy and poppy cultivation is not the same,” the association’s deputy secretary-general Paogoulum Chongloi said.
The association has given a week’s time to Mr. Ramesh to apologise to Manipur’s hill dwellers for his “discriminatory” remark or face “necessary action”.