By: Heigrujam Nabashyam
“Sahebsing, chingna chingini tamna tamgini hairadi, ei haying Senapati Lampak-ki akoiba-singse dozer thajillaga loina temghaige tampak onthok-ke adugaa Meiteigini haige, kaarihaige” – Sirs, if you say hills belong to the hill people and valley belongs to the valley people; tomorrow I will press bulldozers into service and flatten the surroundings of the Senapati ground into a valley and say it belongs to the Meiteis. So, what do you say ?
It was way back in 1989 during a district level officers meeting with the DC, Senapati in the chair and the members of the District Council of Senapati as invitees; however before the meeting the DC was just remembering his officers though in a silly and irresponsible manner that the next day the district administration would be busy looking after the affairs of the “Baruni Kaaba” at Nongmaijing Ching – which falls within Senapati district. “Meitei singna hayeng Baruni Kaaraga eikhoina thabuk chindourini” – tomorrows the Meeties would be on Baruni pilgrimage to the Nongmaijing hills and they would make us busy. Without a moment’s lost a member of the District Council injected a stupid comment “Mathangdagidi tax lou-se” – from next year we will impose tax and that was the beginning of a Leipung-waari – loose, useless talk, which was just silly and plain communal.
I was an officer then serving the Manipur government. It was my third year in Senpati, my place of posting and being the head of office of election branch, I had quite a good rapport with most members of the council.
But for quite a few minutes during the Leipung-waari they – the members, were behaving as if my presence was non-existent. There were two other Meitei officers, if my memory is not wrong, who had been in Senapati since a couple of years before my posting. I looked at them and I knew they would not say anything. And I also knew that if I did not stop them or tell them that it was not a forum for communal debate I would be a joker among them. Therefore I told them in a way that would be easiest for them to understand and the words seen at the beginning of this column was what made them understand instantaneously and everybody burst into laughter for a few seconds after my intervention.
The DC who also happened to be a tribal, knew it was time to stop the Leipung-waari and he said in a jolly manner “Faagi tounabane sounaba yaade” – just jokes, no hard feelings. At times I wonder how some people could be so communal. And there must be reason for it.
The statement of the United Naga Council – UNC, carried by the local newspapers on July 16, 2010 as a reaction to the Manipur Assembly resolution urging the centre to amend article 3 – the provision in the Constitution to change or alter the state’s boundaries non-applicable to Manipur – a demand made by AMUCO and UCM to the centre since 1997 – have certain points to be understood by all concerned.
The main contentions of UNC are (i) the demand for the Nagas in Manipur to live together with those of the Naga Hills of Assam was there since 1948 and the demand was made by the Naga National League under the leadership of A. Daiho, who became a minister of the Govt. of Manipur in 1963. (2) the demand also finds mention in the 9 Point Hydari Agreement of 1947 and the 16 Point Agreement of 1960 – these had to do with the movement of NNC under Angami Z Phizo. (3) the movement for Nagas of Manipur to join Nagaland, continued by the United Naga Integration Council under the leadership of Rishang Keishing till UNIC merged into Congress in August 4, 1972. (4) Naga Hoho and Lui-Ngai-Ni manifest the oneness of the Nagas and therefore the unification of the Nagas is tenable and (5) Manipur govt. is communal and has consistently attempted to legitimize the suppression of the tribal by the Meiteis.
The story of man is the story of strife and struggle, of enmity and hostility, of war and bloodshed or of kings and emperors according to the traditional historians or of class war according to the Marxist.
Whatever may be war and bloodshed are the main ingredients of human history, although romantic tales like Shirin-Farhood, Heer-Ranja, Khamba-Thoibi are the elixir of life. This is the story of the evolution of civilization and man, who now have become the inhabitants of a global village probably learnt one of the best lesson from history which would be very pertinent to the Northeast, – afflicted with AFSPA and armed gangs – that the rights and liberty of the individual, is pre-eminent and it is best secured in a secular democratic world.
The story of man in our Northeast would be having similar story, but like it or not, our story would have been much simpler and recent as we were living a tribal life or in tribalism, just a century or two ago. However no one can equate us with the Jarawa tribes in the Andamans or the Yanomami tribes in the Amazon rainforest who still remain tribal till this day. And their stories are the subject of the anthropologists and history has yet to take over from anthropology.
As for us we have been able to author our history in the last few decades like Phizo has done which T Muivah called it ‘Unique history’ of Naga Republics. But there is the tendency of reverting to the past often threatening to undo what Phizo have done for the people – to move forward with the contemporary world.
One can observe such tendency both in words and deeds in the activities of the protagonists of Nagalim. Right from the ethnic cleansing theory to the Nagalim mantras – Naga Areas, Naga Ancestral Land, Naga Birth Rights, Naga People, Naga Hoho, Naga Rights, Naga Nation, Naga National Workers, Naga Unique History, etc. – the spirit of Nagalim reflected in the first 4 points of contention contained in the public statement of UNC appears to assume a sort of a crude neo-Nazi.
I do not have the slightest of intention to ridicule the pride of a Naga. My intention truly is to let the advocates of Nagalim know that today every political entity are multi-ethnic and the very premise of Nagalim which builds exclusively on Naga tribes or ethnic Nagas is truly a false premise.
There are persons whose hobby is to learn the different communities of the Northeast about their culture, habit, food-habit, life-style and these people are fairly in a position to distinguish an ethnic group from among a crowd of groups, especially of Manipur and Nagaland. It is also believed that there is no point going into a debate on the exploitation theory of the Nagas or histories etc. in this column except to say that what is most vicious of the protagonists of Nagalim is their pent-up feelings and anger which have made them blinkered in their world view.
As for the “communal Manipur government” the whole world would listen if the seven resigned people’s representatives open their mouth and say that the Manipur government is communal; remember, these same MLAs went to Delhi and pleaded on their own sweet will to the congress high command “to save” this communal government in the interest of the hill people because “the Ibobi government is the best government for the hill people”, a year of so ago.
The main contentions of the UNC based on false premise and blinkered vision is also corrupted by deception and manipulation. Perhaps an occasion may come when these contentions may find a logical conclusion. Until then it is for the O. Ibobi Singh government – the best for the hill people – which is “seriously” trying out its skill and expertise to handle and to promote as well the theory and practice of Nagalim.