For the first time in more than 23 years, a Hindi film -- 'Uri: The Surgical Strike' -- was screened in Manipur on the occasion of Independence Day on Tuesday.
The Hmar Students' Association (HSA), a tribal students' body, screened the 2019 movie directed by Aditya Dhar and starring Vicky Kaushal, Paresh Rawal and Mohit Raina, at Rengkai (Lamka) in Churachandpur on Tuesday evening.
The HSA is likely to screen a total of four Hindi films, including Karan Johar's 1998 hit 'Kuch Kuch Hota Hai'.
The HSA said in a statement that they publicly screened the Hindi film to mark the country's 77th Independence Day.
“This is to show our defiance and opposition to terror groups and pro-Meitei Manipur state government, which have subjugated the tribals for decades,” the statement said.
It claimed that over 20 Hmar women, including some minors, were raped by cadres of rival "terror" group United National Liberation Front/Kangleipak Communist Party in 2006 in order to teach the villagers "a lesson" for supporting the Indian Army’s efforts in restoring law and order in the Hmar Hills (now Pherzawl District).
“Join us in taking a pledge to continue our fight for freedom and justice,” the statement added.
The HSA also noted that Hindi films have been banned in Manipur for over 23 years now.
The last film that was publicly screened, as we understand, was 'Kuch Kuch Hota Hai' in 2000, the organisation said.
"We would be declaring our 'freedom' from the anti-national terror groups who have boycotted Tuesday's Independence Day celebrations,” the statement added.
The CorCom, an apex body of seven militant outfits, earlier gave calls to boycott Independence Day and for a 17-hour general shutdown in Manipur.
Meanwhile, the tribals of Manipur, comprising Chin, Kuki, Zomi, Mizo and Hmar tribes, separately celebrated the 77th Independence Day with a ceremonial march past and singing of national anthem at a mega event in Churachandpur on Tuesday.
Veteran tribal leaders reviewed the parade and took salute from 23 march past contingents commanded by their respective group leaders.
The national flag was hoisted by Pi Nengzahoih, the wife of Pastor Sehkhohao, one of the first known victims from the Zo Community in the ethnic violence that broke out in the state on May 3.
Organised by the Zomi Council Steering Committee, over 2,000 Village Defence Force (VDF) personnel, youth and students took part in the ceremonial march past while thousands of men and women of all ages witnessed the mega event at the Lamka Public Ground in Churachandpur.