Leader Writer: Paojel Chaoba
It is fact that State now suffers, the economic blockade imposed by the Sadar Hills Districthood Demand Committee (SHDDC) which is nearing a month have taken its toll on the populace. The UNC openly opposes the district status demand and counters it by imposing an indefinite bandh along all national highways and Naga inhabited areas. The MLAs representing both communities in their contrasting stances have fired verbal bullets along the issue at the State Legislative Assembly sittings presently going on.
The state government also seems caught in a dilemma between the demand and the counter demand. Yet, the formation of a District Reorganization Committee by the cabinet seems to be the only ace up the government’s sleeve in addressing the impasse and the murky state of affairs.
Demarcation of district boundaries and the call for time (three months) to execute the workings is offered from the government, in reciprocation to the districthood demand. Maybe, after the process has been implemented, the UNC and the SHDDC may also arrive to an understanding, hopefully. The SPF governance needs to act fair and square as the issue of land is the major point of contention and has been the cause of many a communal uprising.
Each and every demand made in a democratic set up, however justified needs to be negotiated and tabled according to the circumstances prevalent. The Sadar Hills demand has encompassed more than four decades, what will be the harm for waiting another three months, in the interest of the public, one ponders ? It would be a more mature stance and yet still provide a breathing space to the suffering public. Besides, the National Highway 39 can anytime be again subjected to economic blockades or indefinite bandhs as usual if the government’s promise fails to deliver. It is understood that, the will of the Sadar Hills brethren need not be questioned, as one has observed the condition of the inhabitants of the area bearing the brunt of the blockade more than their valley counterparts. The ‘mass exoduses ‘ by the villagers due to complete breakdown of transport braving the harsh elements, lack of medical facilities, affect on educational institutions and want of essential items have taken its toll more in the striking Sadar Hills area.
Nevertheless, the SHDDC must weigh the pros and cons and address the issue in a humane manner, as since the attention of the government has been drawn. It is questionable to hold one own people at ransom when a solution of sorts has presented itself. The right to life of the public of the state should not be compromised.
Interestingly enough, when the human rights of the entire citizenry is at peril, the so called ‘defenders’, represented by various individuals and ‘organizations’ adopt a ‘wait and watch policy’. A minimal effort of sending out a press communiqué appealing to all concerned to resolve the impasse is not had at all. Many of them in their monocular vision seem content with addressing press conferences with bravado and the idealism of upholding the rights of the people, while remaining blissfully unaware of the ground reality. Maybe,it is due to the fact that their workings are objective to HIV/AIDS, environment, children or AFSPA and the sufferings of the public as a whole is inconsequential. The funds pouring in through their Foreign Contribution Regulations Act number in Euros and dollars must have to be utilized in a marginalized area. Money definitely talks and attending conferences abroad are more significant.
As of late, the concentrated outlook of many an activist, self styled intellectuals etc. nowadays lies in comparing the Anna Hazare issue to that of our own Iron Lady. Irom Sharmila , a living legend, her determination, a testament of the prowess of a Manipuri woman. Compare her with Aung San Suu Kyi or Mahatama Gandhi or any notable figure, but positively. Mentioning that Sharmila’s struggle has been sidelined whereas Anna’s is reciprocated by the centre may be a means of propagating her stance and showing the lopsided attitude of the Union Government towards the North East, but it also shows the weakness of a society to rally to her just cause. One can’t help but feel that her agitation has been more or less ‘commercialized’ by NGOs while forgetting the actual protest stance.
But for every reasonable demand, it may be creation of the Sadar Hills district, removal or AFSPA, endeavor for a less corrupt sub continent, needs to be endorsed by the public and the concerned. Those who are rallying behind must drop their masks, rethink their myopic mindset. Let us be rid of the economic blockades and most importantly, our own mental blockades.