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- During his recent visit to Manipur as violence raged in the state, Home Minister Amit Shah met with the Meira Paibis as part of his meetings with various civil society groups.
Who are the Meira Paibis of Manipur?
- Meira Paibi (Women torch bearers) is a women's social movement in the Indian state of Manipur.
- Referred to as the "guardians of civil society", Meira Paibi dates to 1977 in the present Kakching district. It derives its name from the flaming torches which the women carry while marching through city streets.
- The Meira Paibis, also known as Imas or Mothers of Manipur, are Meitei women who come from all sections of society in the Imphal valley.
- They are widely respected and represent a powerful moral force.
- The Meira Paibis are loosely organized, usually led by groups of senior women, but have no rigid hierarchy or structure, or any overt political leanings.
- They may become more visible during certain times, but their presence and importance in Manipuri civil society are permanent and palpable, and their role as society’s conscience keepers is widely acknowledged.
What social role do the Meira Paibis play?
- One of the largest grassroots movements in the world, its initial focus of fighting alcoholism and drug abuse has now expanded to countering human rights violations and the development of society at large.
- Over the decades, the Meira Paibis have led numerous social and political movements in the state, including some powerful protests against alleged atrocities by Indian security forces, leveraging their strong position in society in the interest of the causes they have espoused.
Major actions undertaken by these women
Active support base of Irom Sharmila
- The Meira Paibi women were the active support base of Irom Sharmila, the activist who remained on a hunger strike in the state from 2000 to 2016 to protest against the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), which gives the armed forces immunity against action in “disturbed” areas.
- Protesters such as Sharmila have long criticised the Act as a vehicle for overreach by the state.
Inner Line Permit (ILP) system Tensions
- In 2015, the state saw tensions over demands for the Inner Line Permit (ILP) system to be introduced there, requiring outsiders to obtain a permit to enter.
- Protesters contended that this was necessary in order to protect local interests, culture, and commercial opportunities available to them. The Meira Paibis played an active role to ensure bandhs and shutdown calls in the markets.
Q. Consider the following statements:
1. Meira Paibi (Women torch bearers) is a women's social movement in the state of Nagaland.
2. One of the largest grassroots movements in the world, its initial focus of fighting alcoholism and drug abuse has now expanded to countering human rights violations and the development of society at large.
Which of the above statements is/are incorrect?
(a) 1 only
(c) Both 1 and 2
(d) Neither 1 nor 2.
Correct Answer: (a) 1 only