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By Bobo Khuraijam
“Taanbiroine-Taanbiroine, Yongchak tu khara pirak-u, haodou maali”, said the armed man to the woman vegetable vendor in the Kwairamband. Panicked and prepared, as if an avalanche was coming. The woman who sits at the pavement of Ema Keithel was packing up her vegetables as she saw the armed man approaching. They are pretty familiar of what they would face if they do not run. The vegetables would be seized or turned it into a football. These men would show how a lightning free kick is taken or a poised penalty shot is carried out over vegetables. Their non-issue Moreh boot would freely come into use.Outrageouslythe man was kind that day. May be the size of the yongchak bean must have tamed the man. He sold off his identity in exchange of a few yongchak beans.
NOT SO LONG AGO: What incubated over a shoddy incident in a village called Heirok during Yaoshang Thabal has hatch into a fully grown monster. They were born out of an institutional wedlock taking advantage of the affair, without any labour pain. The villagers following the incident decided to denounce armed groups operating in the state. Entry of any of the groups was banned in the village. Not only that, any kinds of activities of the armed group were decided to be ostracized by the villagers. The villagers even questioned the acumen of the movement and demanded arms from the state. A very serious debate took place between the villagers and the armed group. Their debate stole the headline of the newspapers then. The issue fades away like any other issues into oblivion. Meanwhile some very gifted people sitting in Babuparatook it as a rare opportunity to expand their creative energy. They decided to arm the villagers. Special Police Officer (SPO), what they called, would be introduced in the village. It was proclaimed that the village would be declared a model village in the state. And many more prototypes were promised. How the nomenclature got altered into VDF would be best explained by the Babus. These legendary armed laborers are not confined in the villages now. We see them in many avatars. Their versatility inspired many to invent gags about them. Some Leipung members had already shared in the social network. One that sits at the top of all gags is about their training. They are trained inside a single room. All the recruits are made to watch the Hollywood flick, Rambo, from part one to five. Their training end when the film ends. They often frisk pillion riders like a true law enforcer. When driving license is demanded, a cooking gas connection card would suffice. They salute to anyone who possesses a PAN card. Bored of their over-elongated rifles issued to them, some of them are caught cutting the barrel trying to give a sophisticated look. Their uniforms are from the paakthabi showroom etc. There are unending gags on them. These days their latest avatar is of protestors. A guest who had visited Imphal was shocked to see them taking out rally in the street. She said it was a sight never to be seen anywhere on the planet. A large number of Khaki uniforms on protest march with placards and festoons in their hands, asking demands from their bosses. Tell us, who can ever champion their cause like that, in uniform!
LOST AND ABONDONED: We have seen many youngsters leaving college midway to join the VDF. The romance of holding a firearm in hand and getting money for it seemed to have pursued them. Little did they know of the enormity of power structure and its chain of command? The full time uniformed people who are mostly at the lower rug relishes their service. They are mostly left to be manned by a constable. A constable would have never dreamt of someone addressing them as ‘saar’. Beyond the call of their duty they would be seen subserviently doing all kind of odd works at a sub-junior officer’s house. They have also complained that they are subjected to work at the paddy fields of their officers. On the other hand they are being lionized by the people who recruited them, who ill-trained them and above all mistreat them. Taking lesson and inspiration from the ‘commandoes’ they live in an imaginary heroic paradise with a false pride; the hallucination that they are dreaded by all did not last long. Now they are getting the heat. We believed, with such large unemployed army of nearly seven lakhs in the state, it is easy to lure young people into the ardor of job. Mostly from the margins of the society, they see little hope from a college degree. They know very well that their parents would not be able to buy them a decent government job. For that matter, they do not owe paddy fields to be sold off. They do not owe gold jewelries to be pawned. At the end of the day it is sheer hopelessness that they are compelled to try for a foothold in the government services. None would care about their job profile, weather their job has any legal standing in case of any discrepancies and the like. If the Babu fails to push their creative energy into a right direction, we will not be surprise to see the Village Defense Force getting involved in misconducts with whatever names. After all yongchak session does not last forever.
FOOTNOTE: “Big or small, those who are involved in the drug crime will not be spared”, these words has been the common slogan of people who represents us. But all those who are caught seems to getting bigger and bigger. Leipung Ningthou calls it, “kaang hidaak na samu phaaba”.