Author Means Bell – The People
By RS Jassal
It is an open fact that every type of people in Manipur want the problem of Sadar Hills to be settled permanently without further loss of time. Everyone appreciates that economic blockades, bandhs and destruction of public property do not benefit anyone. It only adds to the sufferings of the people especially those who are not in viable position to secure Government protection. The author feels encouraged when reads about opinion of some Naga leaders that district may be created but with mutual discussions and consent. There is also no doubt that discussions have been held earlier too, hard points moulded to reduced repugnancy, and perhaps it was because of those worthy efforts in the past which prompted previous Ministries led by Y. Shaiza, Rishang Keishing Nipamacha to declare that Sadar Hills District must be created as Revenue District taking various odds into consideration. It is believed that maximum had been done by Rishang Ministry and Nipamacha Ministry which made it convenient to upgrade all the deptts under ADC Sadar Hills and they are almost functioning like a District in virtue.
However, following fears among the minds of some Naga people appear to be creating doubts and suspicions causing recurrent terminals:-That a certain portions or the considerable portion of land/ jungles belonging to Nagas will go away under control of Kuki’s for their possession permanently. With the expansionism in the number of villages of Kuki`s as brought out by some Naga Research scholars may reduce Nagas to minority in their own ancestral lands. Kuki`s are asking for certain areas to be included where there are no habitation at all in miles around ranging from 20-30 miles. Though (a) and (b) can be equated with archaic psychic think tank but definitely fear of powerful Naga UG organisation to affect Nagalim is there. Areas belong to people who live there it may be Nagas, Kuki`s, Meitei’s and Gorkhas too. Fear of political imbalance in future may happen as democracy breeds on numbers game. Similar factors are affecting creation of Jiribam as a district when Nagas proclaim areas from their Sub Division
will not be given. New demands of Tengnuopal and Phungyar as districts are in the offing depending on the decision on Sadar Hills. It is worth to recall that as CM, Rishang Keishing had put up the statute on Sadar Hills duly approved by his cabinet for obtaining signatures and seal of His Excellency, the then Governor of Manipur. Same was withdrawn within few days under threat from some powerful UG organization or otherwise is difficult to say. But it is true it was to avoid the repercussions from the various Naga organizations. It is also crystal clear that Nagas and Kuki’s enjoy the same constitutional privileges so far protection of lands and right to live is concerned but governance of lands under chiefship of Kuki & Village Headman under Naga system differs. People have been staying together observing their own systems since times immemorial and will continue doing so in future to come is also a palpable fact in realty till Autonomous District Councils get entrenched and the system of Chief/Headmen gets modified or quashed completely.
Theoretically some research scholars compare village of a Naga and a Kuki as yardstick to measure expansionism ignoring that average Naga village is at least 50% and at places even more than cent percent bigger than any Kuki village. Perhaps Lacuna lied and is still there in permission being granted by Govt. to do so since British times to establish any village with minimum 25 households or so / above provided no objection from surrounding village chiefs/Head men. So a graph of increase in population need be taken than the number of increase in villages. Population now stands closer to each other. This problem can be overcome if meaning full bodies from Kukis and Nagas extend sincere and closer co-operation in preparation of National Census Register on population with the Unique identification Card issued to one and all.
In view of the above, the Hon’ble chief minister in capacity of his exalted, unbiased and most respected office, must gather courage and bang the bell telling with full force announcing: SADAR HILL district and JIRIBAM district will be declared within 90 to 120 days, and Tengnoupal – Phunygar districts in the offing will follow suite WHY?? People understand reasons fully well for inherent historicos – social and Politicos accumulating since centuries due to flawed policies that this was bound to happen for present generation to confront it. Some of the factors affecting current situation can be understood better: look at the map prepared by Britisher (Ref TC Hudson – MEITHEIS) right form Cooch Behar – to Yangoon including then NEFA- NAGA HILLS and surrounding areas. Viewer will fail to understand where which community/tribe starts/ ends, each overlaps and even over jumps others just like when you look down from aero plane where and which state of NE in particular starts and ends. There were no well demarcated borders except gaps posed by apparent ending of valley and commencement of uphill slopes fortified with linguistic divides. The nomad tribes compelled by hunger, search for green lands and due political kickings kept on moving in and out into others ‘lambersum’ and occupied vast unoccupied areas, somewhere Rajas brought to serve his agendas, some where Britishers created British reserves and allotted areas to their loyals. This trans village boundary moves have remained in vogue even at International Borders till recently stopped by insurgents occupied border junction points for their moves and controls. Naga insurgency however cautioned the minor tribes and forced them to groupings with some strong groups secretively though to start with. 1990s Naga Kuki skirmishes ended in hundreds losing their lives & many villages getting upstuck. At places where Nagas were in strength grabbed paddy fields belonging to Kuki’s and at places by Kuki’s in vice the versa situation. With ‘outsiders go’ call by valley based insurgent groups in valley in 1980’s forced the Nepalese (Now Indian Gurkhas) to get grouped in area Kanglatombi- Kalapahar- Irangpat I& Irangpat II. This factor is also affecting the horoscope of Sadar Hills though not immediately. But how long will you ignore? Can you? Not at all.
What CM needs doing now:-
Prevail on blockade organizers to end this blockade, indicating breathing time as said before with declaration Sadar Hills & Jiribam districts will be formed for administrative convenience.
• Constitute a super council of all Nagas – Kuki’s (former and present legislator’s councilors only) and two to four representatives from Church from both the tribes to work out on demarcation of areas and where absolutely necessary Kuki’s should also be prevailed upon to agree to keep areas out to make Sadar Hill District compact and smooth administration worthy.
• Reorganized districts should be people oriented and not ethnicity based, since it does not affect the constitutional privileges of tribals even if they are grouped with non tribals for easy and smooth administration. Gorkhas, Kuki’s, Nagas, Meitei’s in Sadar Hill can be an ideal district to start with.
• After these four districts as have been indicated in this write-up, other districts may also be modified for administrative ease and comforts So that lateral roads can come up and developmental activities speed up.
With the bold step and with Nepalese (Indian Gurkhas) factor stitched in Sadar Hills it can be an ideal revenue district to enable persons like late Maj. Bob Khatting MC, Padmshree a Tangkhul to win political Assembly seat from Kangpokpi constituency and dreams of persons like Kishore Thapa who got elected as MLA for three consecutive terms from same constituency can also be re- realized. Gurkhas are still fighting from Kangpokpi constituency as candidate who are neither ST nor SC but constituency still remains ST. Isn’t it worth a matter of research topic? All hopes and aspirations for peace in Manipur are now rivetted on the hammer in the hands of Hon’ble CM, Sh O Ibobi Singh! This hide and seek policy must end. Time comes when such friendly players though, have to come face to face each other in smile. And that TIME has now come. Let us not miss the opportunity.
Two Fasts Too Far Apart
Sharmila’s response to the invitation by Team Anna to join the hunger strike campaign to make the Union government introduce a legislation in Parliament to constitute a statutory people’s ombudsman aimed at curbing official corruption effectively, was measured and mature. The invitation was obviously an afterthought following many comparisons and questions raised in the media about the public clamour over the fast by Anna Hazare and the lack of it in the case of Sharmila who had been on a fast for a record 10 years and still counting. It is unlikely Team Anna did not know the facts of Sharmila’s status as a jail inmate and for this reason it was not totally up to her individual volition to participate in their protest strike in New Delhi. The invitation in this sense was, so to say, a token gesture, or the biblical fig leaf, to cover up what was increasingly becoming an uneasy embarrassment. It was interesting to note how a great section of the media in the Northeast rallied behind Sharmila in varying shades of outrage calling for parity of concern of the Indian public in the two cases. There was also a good section of the national media, lead from the front by Chennai headquartered The Hindu, constantly reminding the Indian public of the difference in their reception of the two cases. Most memorable of all was well known social activist, author of Booker Prize winning novel “God of Small Things” and acknowledged champion of the underdogs in the Indian state’s assimilative nationalising mission, Arundhati Roy, who lent her voice to highlight this discrepancy further. The main thrust of her hard hitting articles derided the public hysteria over the campaign against corruption as this looked only at official corruption and not that of the corporate world or for that matter the corporate media, the indication of which became quite stark after scandals like the infamous Radia tapes expose.
Sharmila was humble in her reply. She wholeheartedly expressed her solidarity with Anna Hazare’s campaign but expressed her inability to join him and his team because of her internship in a Manipur jail. She instead invited Team Anna to visit Manipur, which she described as the most corrupt of all Indian states. Her last jab should have had the sting intended. Manipur must rank as the state with one of the most corrupt official establishment. From the lowly fourth grade employees to the top bosses in the political leadership and bureaucracy, all have collectively and in a collaborative manner, ensured that corruption is entrenched not just into the system but in the psyche of the people. Even the most humble citizen today talks with a clear conscience of the need to pay bribes to get in a child or ward to a government job position as if this was the most natural and only way such things were to be done. Roads and other infrastructures constructed continually are so substandard that they cannot even withstand the onslaught of a single monsoon not because of paucity of funds but because funds were siphoned off into individual pockets. Of such works, there will be no proof needed, as they are plenty of extremely visible examples stark before everybody to see. Corruption in other states is about occasional explosive scandals that break out in high places. Corruption in Manipur, although relatively much less in magnitude, is much more in spread and extend. Indeed it has been made a part of everyday life, therefore endemic and perpetuated endlessly in an unnatural cycle. We hope, even if as just another token gesture, Team Hazare visits Sharmila after their high profile campaign is brought hopefully to a happy conclusion. That would be such a jolt to the corrupt system at in this state. We hope Team Hazare also lends its highly audible voice to Sharmila’s own campaign against the Armed Forces Special Powers Act, AFSPA. They are out there on a campaign to what they believe would ultimately save India but this too is equally about saving the spirit of India.
No argument about it, putting an end to corruption would be a big fillip in the public morale and the economy of the country, considering the estimate that close to 40 percent of the Indian economy is black. But as critics have pointed out sharply and sometimes disparagingly, we hope the campaign also ultimately brings in other forms of corruption other than just the official ones. Corruption happens everywhere including outside the official realms. It includes the ways of cheating small time traders and contactors as well as those who award and approve their cheating ways. The very fact that prices sky rockets every time there is a road blockade or landslide is itself an indication of the cheating ways of many. On all these occasions, essential commodities, in particular petrol and diesel, disappear from the petrol pumps, but nonetheless begin to appear for inflated prices in the black market. How could this happen other than through the vile contagion of corruption?