IMPHAL, November 23 (NNN): The Central Committee of the United National Liberation Front (UNLF), the largest militant outfit in Manipur extends its warm greetings to the people of Manipur on the occasion of the 49th anniversary of the UNLF. The UNLF said it holds the people as the progenitor of change and the source of its strength.
“The Manipur-India conflict which started with India’s forcible annexation of Manipur is now entering the 64th year. The armed struggle against India launched by the UNLF to restore Manipur’s freedom is now 49 years old. The UNLF Central Committee invites members of all ethnic groups in Western South East Asia (WESEA) to participate actively in the liberation struggle against India and its reactionary puppets,” the UNLF said.
Harping on the prevailing situation,the UNLF said ups and downs are a natural part of the process of change. The latter comes about mainly because of the superior strength of the Indian security force and their deceitful stratagems as well as when mistakes creep in the operational processes of the groups spearheading the process of change. The UNLF firmly holds that these temporary setbacks can and will be overcome when the liberation groups realize their mistakes and correct course and unveil the true face of the struggle.The UNLF considers the growing apathetic trend among the people towards their rights as a human being and their lackadaisical awareness of the need to struggle to wrest these rights as dangerous as also the growing dependency on the colonial masters and their puppets to respect and uphold their fundamental human rights. These circumstances have emboldened the colonial masters and their agents to cast the struggle for freedom and change in an unfavourable light and thereby snap the organic link with the people. Recent incidents of expelling from their villages individuals who have contributed their mite to the struggle for liberation and change by falsely accusing them of child-lifting and torching their houses on the instigation of hidden agent provocateurs of the colonial masters as also the serial bomb blasts triggered which claimed innocent lives are examples of the persistent attempts to sully the image of struggle for liberation and change. These episodes will remain as dark stains in the history of the struggle for change notwithstanding the fact that these are the handiwork of agents of the colonial masters at the behest of intelligence agencies like Intelligence Bureau (IB) and RAW as well as “Indian Occupational Force (IOF).
“There is only one objective behind such engineered episodes — that is, to delegitimize our national freedom struggle and those who are waging it. Our compatriots should be aware that in these trying times that the colonial masters and their puppet agents are intentionally hatching dark deeds like the above as part of their secret warfare against the struggle for liberation and change”, the outfit cautions.
It then said the Manipur-India conflict has engendered countless incidents of gruesome torture and killings. People have expressed their desire for putting an end to such gruesome incidents in a number of ways. But the colonial system instead of respecting the popular wish unleashes yet more terrible assaults on the lives and limbs of innocent people. The repeated murderous assaults signal the utter contempt in which the IOF and their puppets, the fake liberation organizations, hold the lives and dignity of our compatriots. Let no compatriot entertain the false hope that these murderous assaults will disappear if one closes one’s eyes! On the contrary, it is the objective of the colonial system to sap the inner moral strength and convictions of their subjects born out of their inalienable rights as members of the human race by repressing or terrorizing them. The consciousness of being a human being equal to anyone else inlaid with a sense of strong self-respect is what the colonial masters fear most in their subjects. For, these are the true marks of liberation. The gun is the visible symbol of defiance of the oppressor enemy as also enabler of this inner journey that all our compatriots who love and prize freedom — be they scholars or be they physically challenged — must undertake, the UNLF stated.
According to the militant outfit, the people need to explore together and understand the growing trend in our society to sell self-respect for money and the resultant degeneration in our character and social conduct. We need to see whether this fall has come about naturally or whether this is induced by external forces. We believe that if we know the factors behind our sliding social values, we can devise more effective ways to counter and retrieve it.
“We believe that degeneration in our social values have been caused by India’s colonial system which has willfully sacrificed imperatives of economic growth for Manipur thereby diminishing the space for productive economic activity of the people. This combined with the race for cornering the benefits of development by any means, fair or foul, has incentivized a growing number of people into selling their self-respect. Squeezing the space for common people’s livelihood is a deliberate means used by the colonial system to deepen the people’s dependency on India. Strategically, the development policy of the colonial master is designed to create a new class of rich and powerful turncoats to implement its agenda for turning Manipur into a ‘slave state’ of India,” it added.
“Oppression and intimidation are not the only instruments of the colonial system. A lack of self-confidence and a perception that they have woefully lagged behind other communities coupled with widespread belief that the sweat of their mind and body will not be able to close the gap and bring them at par, if insinuated successfully within the subjects’ mind, can support and deepen colonial projects. The sudden spurt of agitation in February, 2013, by certain groups of Meiteis for reclassifying their community as scheduled tribes at the behest of elements in the Indian bureaucracy are events that would have brought smug smiles on the faces of the colonial masters. That shows that the colonial masters’ fond dream of raising a generation of Meiteis plagued by self-doubt and inured in the habit of dependency has begun to materialize. These clique of Meiteis have obviously forgotten their history and refused to recognize the import of their recorded selves. It is a sign that these cliques are at odds with the world’s forward civilisational march. Their demand bespeak a singular absence of pride in their community and its history as also a lack of vitality,” UNLF pointed out.
However, to their misfortune, the cure-all remedy they espouse or are made to espouse (being classified as tribe will end their woes) is akin to Keibu Kei-oiba’s proverbial hollow tube. In the contemporary scenario of the world pushing forward towards new horizons of progress, going backwards (towards tribe) will be counter-productive. The self-prescription for jettisoning the contemporary Meitei profile which represents a fusion of seven salais (clans) over a historical period for and opt for the status of a tribe reflects a regressive state of mind as well as a withdrawal symptom. The prescription will have no adherents amongst self-respecting and thinking people. A likely long-term outcome of this prescription will be to backstab each other in the mad rush to grab dwindling opportunities and thus pave the way for the self-annihilation of the society and polity. The prescription cannot equip us to participate meaningfully in the universal race towards progress and development; at best, it can only deepen and reinforce dependency on the colonial masters.
On the other hand, the potential for fomenting mistrust among the communities in the hills and the valley and further fragmenting the already troubled composite life is immense. The likely competition for jobs and other opportunities reserved for the scheduled tribes by the Indian Constitution is only likely to set up the people in both the hills and the valley against each other as never before. In the event, it will be an unforgivable crime against history. For the colonial masters, it will be sweet triumph, the UNLF said.
In the ethnic issue, the UNLF said to fashion a solution for the fragmented polity of Manipur is the joint responsibility of the different communities co-inhabiting it. Towards this end, it is imperative that an environment for nurturing a sense of collective ownership of the land is promoted. Every community that co-inhabits Manipur should jointly and collectively own all natural resources of this land. A perspective and outlook to ensure that all benefits and opportunities flowing from these natural resources should be equitably distributed amongst all co-inhabiting communities should inform our political system. Ideally, a sense of collective ownership of the land and its resources should lead to enhanced stakes for all co-inhabiting communities in positive co-existence as well as active partnership in development. But these are powerless to be born in a political-economic environment that puts premium on ethno-centrism and is wary of open interaction between communities.
“Zealously guarding the ethnic boundaries, both political and social, communities co-inhabiting Manipur seems to be afflicted with a myopic vision that restricts our gaze towards extant as well as emerging global political and economic trends. To ask ourselves how India views and assesses the communities co-inhabiting Manipur and the WESEA both individually as well as a conglomeration is more than overdue. vis-à-vis a community and India, each community tends to sense the contradiction,” the UNLF added. Yet these same communities are seemingly not bothered by each one’s inclination to rope in India as an ally/ arbiter in a triangular or multi-polar equation. The latter illogical attitude has continued to bedevil relations between co-inhabiting communities. The time has now come to exchange views freely on such negative biases that co-inhabiting communities in Manipur and WESEA region nurse against each other so as to try and correct the same, it said.
“In our ethnic self-absorption, every community seems to be either unaware or indifferent to how global political and economic trends unleashed by the rich and powerful countries are impacting units of WESEA. Units of WESEA need to take serious note that the powerful nations are beginning to look at the resource-rich units of WESEA and their relative backwardness in development as an opportunity to earn good profits and that these powerful countries have already made road maps for the same. Simultaneously, India is encouraging these rich and powerful countries to invest in WESEA region primarily with an eye on accelerating its economic growth. India may not be far off the mark in its hidden calculation that these rich and powerful countries will, post their investment, increasingly tend to view the continuing armed struggle and the accompanying violence in the WESEA region narrowly through the prism of their commercial interests, and that this, in turn, will make these powerful countries amenable to India’s official stance about the armed struggle in WESEA region as law and order problem,” the UNLF said.
The UNLF then stated that clearly, thus, the enhanced interest of the rich and powerful countries of the globe in the WESEA region could prove to be an ally in India’s continuing policy of suppressing these freedom struggles through brute force. At the same time, though, the enhanced commercial interests of the rich and powerful countries could vouchsafe an opportunity for the communities in the region. As and when the powerful countries and their corporate companies begin the process of extraction and exploitation of the region’s natural resources, the self-absorbed frog-in-the-well attitude of people across the region will no longer be viable. The WESEA region is going to see a change unlike any they have encountered before. It will then be in each co-habiting communities’ self-interest not to let the change sweep us all off our feet. A common effort, whether coordinated or not, to prepare ourselves for reaping the benefits of the encounter will begin to stand out as a crying need of all communities then.
According to the UNLF, the process of extraction of resources from the surface or under the ground by these rich and powerful countries or their corporate companies for profit has begun long ago. It was started more than a hundred years ago in Assam; the rest of the WESEA region is going to encounter it now. In Manipur, the contract for extraction of around 5 trillion cubic feet of crude oil has been awarded to Jubilant Company from Netherlands by India with the state government choosing to ignore the wishes of the people. This raises a number of questions for people in Manipur as well as the rest of the WESEA region. One is whether the people should silently acquiesce in the extraction of resources starting from water to oil for profit by the powerful countries without/against the consent of the people. Should not the generation of the present day share these natural resources with the unborn generations of the future? If the answer to the foregoing question is yes, then what terms of trusteeship will be fair for all stakeholders, including the corporate companies and their sponsors, and how will these be implemented? Should individual communities negotiate terms of agreement with the joint pressure of the colonial master and the corporate companies and their sponsors, the rich and powerful countries? Or, should not communities try and leverage the strength and wisdom of a common stance that best safeguards the interest of each community and the collective as well as allow a fair and unhindered regime of trade? All these questions are pending before us and the people should reflect on these issues.
While the trend for zealously protecting ethnic nationalisms forged in the heat of freedom struggle of the communities in the WESEA region is a strong reality, it is also our considered view that the times now call for nurturing a vision of a larger yet unrealized entity that can facilitate evolution of collective decisions based on our common interests as well as coordination among the units of WESEA as when circumstances demand. This is also the demand of liberation struggles waged separately so far.
The UNLF also reiterates the proposal for resolving the Manipur-India conflict through the democratic mechanism of Plebiscite which was first floated in January, 2005, while simultaneously waging a liberation struggle.