by Heigrujam Nabashyam
Sadar Hills has long ceased to be a question of district. The Manipur government cannot pretend or be in denial of this development; nor that would help in any way. Fact is, Sadar Hills has become two opposing world views of the two contending parties. In plain words, the question appears to be : who owns Sadar Hills ?
The question finds a direct root in the British legacy of the colonial days. It has born out of the British policy of reserving moles and hills of the then Manipur for the hill dwellers for their convenience and strategy. And this legacy of the British administration was the original and primary source of the ideas such as one’s ancestral land, etc.
And what was equally, if not more, responsible for the development of this kind of historical junk – classification, identification and reservation of the natural landscape by the colonial people, was the pathological fear of the subservient minds of the British subjects of Manipur – perhaps the post-British generations, too of this godforsaken beautiful land – that did not question the whimsical act that ultimately led to the growth of conceptual and cerebral fissure in the society of Manipur on the hill-valley line.
Man by nature are greedy; once given an opportunity, it would be very difficult to make one share it later that opportunity with another, because it becomes one’s nature and would ultimately claim it to be one’s birthright, etc.
Manipur, even after coming of age, when values of equality, fraternity and democracy was the Mantra of our politics, 90 percent of the land of Manipur are out of reach even for the fellow brethren. This is unthinkable in a civilized world. And this is the source of many of the ills and problems of the weird world of Manipur.
Now, politics is the name of this game. But to play the game there should be a fair and legitimate norm. What Manipur in today is, the game is being played on an uneven, unfair and absolutely illegitimate ground. This is the curse and that we are all under its spell. We have even forgotten, under the spell of course, that it is destroying all of us without any distinction.
Definitely our first task is to come out of this spell and that this won’t be an easy task too. But this is what politics and the political activists – especially the elected representatives – are expected to perform; because that would decide what the future and our immediate tomorrow, too – would hold for us in this badly blighted land.
The Sadar Hills is one such ill, born out of this curse. But what is unfortunate is the government fails to inspire confidence in the minds of the public that it would find a durable solution so that we can bear the pains and sufferings that are inflicted on us by its habitual inactivity. People expect words from the chief minister that would evoke confidence in us that Manipur is not a Mapu Paandaba Lum – a land with no one in charge.
Even an SPF government apologist must understand that the health of this ancient land have seriously deteriorated during the rule of this most stable government ever.
Everybody knows Sadar Hills is a complicated problem. But the government has to handle it one way or the other. That is the job of the government.
Recalling the last upheaval of the Sadar Hills during W. Nipamacha’s period – I had the privilege as a member of a group of social activists, to interact and discuss the issue of Sadar Hills with the members of SHDDC led by its Chairman and the General Secretary – that was a serious meeting, though unofficial. When I talked to the members of the Committee, I had pointed out that Sadar Hills was much more than a question of district, rather it had become a symbol of Manipur. It is a microcosm of Manipur and no community can play the communal card and every community must respect it.
I had also pointed out that bandh/blockade of the Sadar Hills to demand upgradation into a district was not commensurate to the importance and beauty of the Sadar Hills that bind all the districts of Manipur – hills and valley together.
On behalf of the group of activists and on behalf of the then suffering public, I made the appeal to withdraw the strike/bandh because that had only lessen the importance of Sadar Hills and would ultimately destroy its own beauty.
Luckily nobody from the SHDDC had contradicted or opposed to what I had proposed.
The next day the SHDDC withdrew the strike/bandh after signing an agreement with the W. Nipamacha Singh government.
A decade had gone and the spirit of Sadar Hills remains the same; but the issue of Sadar Hills aggravates. The problem is, our political leaders appear to have lost on the decades-old issue. And let nobody be under the illusion that Delhi has the solution unless our elected rulers do their homework.
It is them to understand the intricacies of the matter; pinpoint areas to be focused; visualize and plan for viable alternatives only then Delhi or whoever, can help us. But sadly, the SPF government seems to have abdicated its responsibility. Do we not deserve a responsible government that would steer clear of the mess made by the O. Ibobi Singh government?