Bridging the gap

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Home Minister Gaikhangam’s appeal on Saturday to work for unity between the hills and the valley is indeed welcome in the backdrop of the commemoration of June 18 uprising and the gaping hill-valley divide inclusive of the recent demand for alternative arrangement in the hills. We have earlier flagged the conflict of ideas and territoriality which had induced a gaping divide among major communities in Manipur. We had also blamed the British colonial masters for driving a wedge between the hill and the valley and New Delhi for furthering the divisive policy. But there has to be a limit to the blame game. We must also exercise some self-introspection among ourselves. As the Home Minister Gaikhangam said, instead of pointing fingers at others we should look at our own flaws and try to correct them first. We have been seeing a noticeable change in Gaikhangam these days and he is trying his utmost to achieve the level of political maturity that we need for bringing the communities together. His words may be painful to some, but we could assume that it is in the interests of the state as a whole. In these days, we may not be imaginative enough to effect a process of social engineering of the sorts practiced by our ancestors. But, we could begin by applying our mind for finding a way out of the maze that we are in at present. We must first accept that the hill-valley divide is a reality. We must also be able to accept the fact that there is no divide between the common people of the hill and the valley as it has been projected in recent times. The commoners, wherever they are in the state, have had a shared historical experience under the various despotic kings and the colonial masters. Whether they are subjects of the kings or the subjects of the Khullakpas and the chiefs, they are still the ruled. Freedom or independence or self-determination was something foreign to them till Manipur adopted the Manipur Constitution Act in 1947 wherein a democratic form of government with an elected legislature and the Maharaja as the executive head. That freedom was short-lived as Manipur was practically annexed by the Dominion of India through a coerced merger in 1949. Manipur’s territory had fluctuated according to the power and reach of different kings and when the British left Manipur it had shrinked to the present territory. We are still angered with the gifting away of the precious Kabaw valley to Burma by India’s first Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru. So, that residual territory was threatened with India signing a ceasefire without territorial limits with the NSCN-IM, Manipuris went on a rampage and destroyed symbols of the Indian political hierarchy in 2001. It was the last pitch effort to save whatever is left of the territory of the once powerful nation. So, the spirit of June 18 is something dearly sacred to the Manipuris and for which several others are still prepared to lay down their lives. While on the other hand, we cannot simply wish away the aspirations of ethnic communities for alternative arrangements. We do not have the luxury of languishing in a dream that is called Manipur but we all have a stake in addressing the issues blockading the preservation of the territorial integrity of the state. The discourse of conflicting ideas and people-to-people relations in history has to be grounded at the level of the civil societies of the different communities. We have earlier suggested a Track-2 approach to deal with the conflicting issues, which seems to be the only viable way out of the mess as against putting economic pressures on the government for achieving one’s demands. But for starting a track-2 process, the majority community that is the Meiteis need to shed its chauvinistic airs and for the people in the hills to do away with anti-Meitei sentiment. This is all we could pray for.

1 COMMENT

  1. Mr G seems the new hope for the IFP how nice for him. I would write him directly but being an Indian Politician he entered politics so he would never have to deal with ordinary people again. Thus this open letter. I respectfully request that the Home Minister overturn the blanket ban on visitors to Irom Sharmila Chanu which in the opinion of HH Roland Keishing Chief Judicial Magistrate Imphal East is unconstitutional. It was imposed by a cabal of police DGs with the support of the CM Ibobi Singh who is Mr G’s political rival. We have been unable to find a lawyer who will take on these families in the Guwahati High Court (followed by the Supreme Court if necessary). I am Sharmila’s fiance and therefore apply under her article 16 human rights my original application made over two year’s ago rests with his Chief Secretary though a copy was lodged with the British High Commissioner in Delhi. The BHC must be slightly disappointed with his not offering them any Arms contracts after they had been so helpful to the Government of Manipur in oppressing its people.

    I am also Sharmila’s campaign manager, though the campaign for now is to try to get her to agree to consider taking on a political what the IFP term Track 1 intervention. As he may know and likely does not care, I am trying to forge a new party the Anti-AF(SP)A league to oust Mr G Mr Anand and Mr Ibobi from the Manipur State Assembly. As a democrat I am sure he will want his credentials upheld. He cannot possibly fear a truly democratic uprising which would require Manipuris to take responsibility for their own lives their own problems. Having gently switched the blame from the British, the Mayangs and now to Manipuris I suggest the next step is to stop assigning blame and start to look for solutions. The simplest being when you have tried a corrupt self-seeking deceitful den of crooks by the 2017 elections for fifteen years it is time to try anyone else so long as they are not called Gaikhangam, Ibobi, Anand. I fully appreciate though if Mr G really is too terrified of a standard XII educated single meitei woman even though she remains surrounded by police informants, government psycophants with the local press slavishly publishing only what his goons tell them to that he will continue not allowing her any means to propagate her options peacefully and democratically for example internet access and free access to foreign diplomats.

    And he must be terrified not only does he the Home Minister, who else takes responsibility for the cruel inhumane and petty conditions applied to her detention in JNIMS, refuse to allow her reasonable access to those who might help with AF(SP)A repeal, his cronies have for some time denigrated her character and motivation in press releases. Apart from an endemic Manipuri paranoia I am not sure why he is so afraid. Let her have her visits. What difference will it make. It is not as if he wants to visit her.

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