The images and events that unfolded over the last few months in Manipur send shivers down my spine, and at the same time fill me with despair and anger.
Like Gujarat, the killings and violence in Manipur will remain a blot on this country's soul for years to come, and once the dust settles, it will be difficult to ascertain who the perpetrators were.
Whatever the causes and consequences, Manipur is certainly broken and bleeding, and it will require more than just a healing touch to regain its lost glory.
India boasts of its unity in diversity, but intolerance was seen in Manipur when religious institutions and places of worship were burnt down to ashes. Humanity died and history was repeating itself.
Religion is certainly a boon, but when rioters of one faith go against the other, then the same religion becomes a bane. In Manipur, religion became a bane when zealots thought they were killing to save their faith.
In reality, they were not, they were offending the same gods who they thought would be happy with their deeds. In one way or the other, all religions pass through the valley of love. But religious bigots can't feel that love. They fail to see religion and compassion walking together.
What we saw in Manipur was religious intolerance taking on the garb of the law, and it ran roughshod over people who pleaded for their lives, while some fought valiantly and died for what they stood for.
The violence in Manipur is now given several different tones, but one can't hide behind the bone-chilling atrocities which the world saw and did nothing about. The most decorated leaders closed their eyes and ears, disowned their people and left them to die.
India, a great civilisation, swears by its constitution and free speech, where everyone has the right to propagate their religion, and an elected government is duty-bound to respect that. But, nothing of that sort happened in Manipur.
Instead, we saw and heard stories of blood and gore, day in and out. As of today, Manipur is inhabited by scarred people even as aid is pouring in from different quarters. The trauma of this violence will remain with some forever.
What we saw in Manipur was mob psychology. Mobs follow no religion, and violence has no religion. Religious fanatics have no worldview, they follow their political and religious masters blindly.
A fragmented nation cannot prosper. It's time to wake up. This is not the India we fought the colonialists for. And today, we are following their legacy of divide and rule.
As I write this with pain and anguish, I recall the national pledge in our school textbooks, which emphasises that we are all brothers and sisters. But, in Manipur, a brother killed a sister who could not defend herself, and all this for the sake of religion.
India as a nation, has been a votary of non-violence. Our great leader Mahatma Gandhi freed the country from British rule through non-violence. He put it so beautifully, "I object to violence because when it appears to do good, the good is only temporary; the evil it does is permanent."
Manipur doesn't represent Gandhiji's non-violent India. I hope and pray even now that those indulging in violence take a step back, ponder their actions and reconcile with their brethren. I know this is wishful thinking, but we need to give humanity a chance.