By: Khangembam Romesh
When what a Manipuri is saying “I am proud of being an Indian” come apart, it seems to me that its sense appears to be lost, if we take it into a concise exploration at every instant of situations that happen in Manipur frequently. I no longer understand what he/she is saying, what is the way of making this kind of point. I fail to see what does make him/her to claim as he/she does so. Perhaps, my thought or imagination may be wrong, but this may happen in consequence of certain things having been brought to my attention or rationalisation. Unless I can see what Government of India has done so far for the people of Manipur or Manipur State, I will no longer want to go on saying in the same way as I do before, because the cumulative impact of the blockades demands for serious action. This type of thinking, I appeal, may have in the minds of some of the people of India too other than Manipuri, if the person can understand what is going on in Manipur and have happened in the earlier. What is to be concerned regarding the position of Manipur as a state of India needs to be revisited in the light of present phenomenon towards the line of good governance, particularly in the system of democracy.
My reflection in the present writing is not against being an Indian, but what I try to bring about is the very required revelation of the current spectrum of issues that can be discussed within our method of inquiry to locate the role of Central Government at this hour of need in connection with the prevailing turmoil, social disorder and many past crisis that have already been witnessed in the state. The development of post Muivah’s proposed visit in Manipur (planned by Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India) has become important to be addressed from diverse angles, can’t leave it just as it has happened or over. The consequences may be of the kind of argument, but the obvious fact is that the people of Manipur is extremely suffering and bearing the burden beyond what one (may include PM, Home Minister etc) can imagine. There is scarcity of life saving drugs (emergency medical services had to be shutdown), acute crisis of food and essential commodities etc., due the economic blockade on the national highway nos. 39 and 53-the main lifelines to Manipur. The shortage of fuel hits radically various sectors of the state. More punch to medical sector that already having the problem of irregular power supply due to lack of diesel. Hundreds of vehicles queued up for many hours since many hours (48 hrs) at petrol pumps as people crowded up just for few drops of fuel not to fill up the empty tanks full, just to put a little amount, long queue in the rain just to get only five kilos of rice of Rs 150 per kilogram. There is also fear of affecting severely the complete education in the state because of this artificial catastrophe. In which parts of India such circumstances had ever been occurred? We fail to understand whether we in after effect of war or in war.
What type of immediate appropriate actions has the Central Government taken up on these social/political disturbances? Everybody knows including the Government of India that the ongoing economic blockade is being orchestrated by the supporters of NSCN (IM). The people of the areas do not support the agitation, but keep them under GUN control. How a Student Union based in the neighbouring state Nagaland block trucks entering Manipur or coming from Manipur? All these are the form of illegal abrogation of basic human rights including all-important rights to life. Why India Government keeps eyes on simply watching? Such situation is not first time happened in Manipur. The Central Government knows it since a long back, but what has done so far to overcome these kinds of inconveniences. The silence of Union Government causes indirectly to obstruct the way out to normalcy; the concern for general public has not been seen, becoming questionable on its governance. One important thing that can be looked upon is that, as the present turmoil gradually reveals ever more about the causes, is who is the morally responsible for it. What seems to make this conclusion inevitable is the performance or non-performance of the direct action required at the moment that depends crucially on the movement of the Central Government.
In an emerging unstable ambience, manipulated by a certain group having the foreign influence, why does Central Government cross their fingers? Why the Central Government leave the flaming issue to State Government only? Protection of the goods truck and passenger buses entering Manipur within the territory of Nagaland is the sole responsibility of Nagaland Government, because the ongoing agitation is of unlawful criteria. At this present commotion, the Government of India should take the responsibility for protection and control of national highways. The current situation, it appears, need of Central Government major role, and cannot be managed by the State Government alone as at present. Why the Central Government do not discuss the situation of the state where the lifelines of the people of Manipur have been totally cut-off since more than two months. If the Central Government is of the so-called good governance and to take it into account, it may be noted that on account of social interruption from a certain force (seems more satisfactory to say as terrorist acts) a situation has arisen in the state or in a part of the state, as the case may be, a form of protest, but the situation has become essentially to quell disturbance in the interest of the public not to infringe the line of humanity. Good governance for the people is to be designed to bring the crisis to an end, not to harbour as such procreation ground any more.
Why did not a single national political party raise the issue of Manipur in the recently concluded parliament session for calling attention? As a part of drama, a team of BJP/CPI delegation came to Manipur, but I question why they did not put the issue at parliament for discussion. If it were happened in other states of India, they would have walked into the well, violently disrupting the entire proceedings of the parliament and noisy polarisation between opposition and ruling would have been seen regarding the matter. How many of the Indian people know about the prevailing situation in Manipur? How many of the Indian people consider it as important smouldering issue of India? How many of the Indian people know about Irom Sharmila, the world longest-running hunger striker? Where has gone the national news channels/agencies? They sent their correspondents in the dense forest to coverage the news of the forest brigand Veerapan but why not to the public grievance of Manipur.
The adhoc measures, taken in haste by the Union Government have created complications in Manipur and there is no guarantee that New Delhi may not indulge in adhoc-ism even now. We can look upon its probable consequences reminding the incidents sparked off during the declaration for the extension of ceasefire between NSCN (IM) and the government of India beyond Nagaland during the reign of the then PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee (BJP led NDA government). And again at this crucial time of ADC election, the Union Government has given the consent to Muivah to visit Manipur. The discrete resolutions of Centre mind’s eye of compromising people sentiment with NSCN (IM) at two stages have created perplexity among us that how Government of India look upon the people of Manipur.
If there is real issue of Naga, then it should be confined only in Nagaland. How does the Government of India try to interrelate the issue with Manipur? My modest question to Central Government, Muivah and Nagaland Government-Are Tangkhuls of Manipur include in the so-called Naga group of Nagaland? Can you people declare it without hesitation? Like India, Manipur is also a state of different communities and ethnic groups since inception. There is historical perspective of the territory of Manipur and cultural unity? Where has gone the great Indian historians? Can history of India be changed? What is the difference between the issue of Jammu & Kashmir and crisis of Manipur? The only difference is that India and Pakistan were one but Manipur and Nagaland were not. Manipur was seized by the British in1891 to be incorporated into the British India Empire. Before the British took the administrative control, it was an independent Kingdom. Is India ready to give some parts of the Jammu and Kashmir to Pakistan for a peaceful settlement? Why does Nagaland Government act unconstitutionally to interfere in the state affairs of another federal state? What type of constitutional right has given to Nagaland Government by India Government? Is India ready to accept a third party to negotiate the Indo-Pak issue? It is not the dispute between Manipur and Nagaland. From the ethical perspectives, it can be described that India Government is not acting to what one ought to do. There should be a sort of moral obligation, if the prevailing situation is to be sorted out sincerely. Why India Government give its maximum effort in fighting separatist outfits in Jammu and Kashmir? Why India care for national integrity and security of India? Of course, the security of the nation is of paramount importance, as a part in turn, this means that the security of nation involves security of states as well. The NSCN (IM) has instigated and misguided certain section of innocent people who are not recognized as “Naga” in Nagaland. As India does, Manipur also need to fight the separatist outfits in Manipur.
To look after and maintain the law machinery of a state is the constitutional right of an Indian state? Where has gone the concept of Centre-State relation? Whether it can’t be applied to Manipur? The approval of Central Government to visit Muivah Manipur at this time of ADC election in hills areas compels me all these questions as need to be asked in the context of the phenomenon of Central Government unforeseeable policy and also relevant as one takes stock of the outcome.
As a part of India, what infrastructures have been provided to Manipur? The infrastructures of education, transport, medical, road and general administrations etc in Manipur are comparatively negligible. Even after sixty years of Indian independence, there is no rail connection to Manipur with the rest of India. Where is India shining? No development in the hills of Manipur, but government official may say, no developmental work can be carried out due to the obstruction of underground oufits (mainly from NSCN (IM)), and if it is true, then what is the agenda of the peace talk between NSCN (IM) and India Government? Where has deployed that much number of security/paramilitary forces? Why Muivah and India do not want to bring the upliftment of Manipuri Nagas and their overall development?
Central Government should coordinate less developed state like Manipur especially in developmental works. Declaring that he had come to Manipur to start a ‘new process’, on 20 November 2004, the PM Dr. Manmohan Singh said violence, militancy and terrorism offered no solution to the problem faced by the people. “That was my message to the people of Kashmir. That is my message to the people of Manipur. I dream of a Manipur free from violence”, he said at the special and ninth convocation of Manipur University. Manipur have been waiting for the day when the PM’s ‘dream of Manipur and assurance’ to the people would come into reality till now, however, as of now the situation remains unchanged. Many political leader and bureaucrats at the centre descend on this tiny state occasionally promising much, but doing little. Sympathising with the “pain and sorrow” of the mothers who have been lost their beloved children, the Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh said his government would try to redress the legitimate grievances on the Armed Forces Special Power Act, 1958 for which a five-member committee had been set up headed by a former Supreme Court Judge Jeevan Reddy to review the legislation. He promised to do accordingly. The report of the committee had also been submitted to the Union Government years back and strongly recommended for repeal of the act, but where has gone his promise, how did he sympathise the pain and sorrow of those mothers at that time. On the then visit to Manipur on the concerns being raised in the state regarding the repeal of the draconian AFSPA act, the PM asserted “I am not here to buy people’s loyalty with packages. However, he went to Kashmir before the Manipur visit with a big package of Rs 24,000 crores promising for a new Kashmir of peace, hope and prosperity.
As far as one recall, that the people response to welcome his maiden in the midst of the curfew imposed by the rebel underground outfit RPF had shown our Indianess, enthusiastic sense of identity, integration and Indian nationalism of the people of Manipur. Despite the curfew, large number of people gathered at Kangla (the ancient place of administration of Manipur Royalty, a site with profound religious, political and emotional significance of the people of Manipur) to greet the Hon’ble Prime Minister. Visualising the relevant factors, we can understand that patriotism and love for our nation are intensely embedded in the psyche of Manipuri as in any other parts of the country. About the best thing that can be said of the visit is that the public response to him as Prime Minister was full of good-will and openness. The PM approach seemed to be a mix of idealism and realism. However, in its totality, the visit seems now disappointing. None could miss the contrast between the positive gestures and initiatives taken in Manipur.
Though insurgency still rears its ugly head here and there, Manipuris are in searching for a permanent defrayal of peace and development and to work to indemnify a social and political empowerment of all people. To get relieve and lessening tension amongst the psyche of the people of Manipur, there is need of developing increased interaction/consultation between Central and State Government at the political and economic levels, if the Government of India settles down sincerely into a relationship based on greater and greater degree of mutual and self respect, rather than deteriorate into mutual contempt. Manipur and Kashmir both needs a different system of a new social order of progress and peace. Both the states are having the same drastic causalities caused by the insurgency problems. The PM had visited Kashmir repeatedly to oversee the situation over there and for mutual teamwork of both centre and state government. But it seems that for New Delhi, Manipur is simply too remote, physically and mentally, but closed verbally.
The Central Government knows that the commitment given to NSCN (IM) would not be acceptable to majority of the people of Manipur. Why central government not able to respect the feeling of the 83% of the people of Manipur? An honest and democratic approach to the prevailing situation in Manipur is to simply respect the sentiment of the people and provide good governance, as indeed of other corresponding governance given in other parts of the country, simply not to admit any solution manipulated by a leader or certain group. Why Union Government and leaders of India remain silence at this hour of crisis of social disorder? My heart is still saying “I am an Indian” throbbing with the emotion and spirit of Indian nationalism, but I don’t know whether I shall be proud of being an INDIAN.