By Dr. Khomdon Lisam
We, Manipuris tend to celebrate election as a festival without much thinking about the consequences. At the time of election campaign , anybody can go to the candidate and ask for money or chak chanaba or shumang Lila or even for drinking wine or Heroin drugs (No-4) and that too in the name of democracy. The politicians also distribute money through their agents to win the election. Rampant corruption and bribery starts from the time of election. At the time of election, we tend to forget core issues of Manipur like Corruption, AFSPA-1958, Inner Line Permit, unemployment, electricity , water supply, economic blockade, rape and human rights violations, dharnas, bandhs, strikes, petrol queue, rising price of petrol, LPG and many other core issues. During economic blockade, we have experienced many suffering and hardships – Rice selling at Rs.150-200 a kilogram, a liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) refill at Rs.2,000, petrol at Rs.200 a litre, and diesel at Rs.150 a litre. At the time of election, we tend to forget our long suffering and surrender our right to vote to Congress for a paltry sum of Rs. 1000.
Our right to vote has been sold at Rs. 1000 to a particular candidate for five years or Rs. 0.54 per day. The result is that we end up electing contractors, drug traffickers , criminals and former militants as MLAs. Ved Marwah, former governor of Manipur told TIME. “There is no democracy” in Manipur, he said “but rather the trappings of democracy and a combination of tribal society, various insurgent groups and total corruption.”
At the time of election, we tend to forget
(1) Irom Sharmila Chanu who has been fasting since 2nd November, 2000 demanding for repeal of AFSPA-1958 .
(2) 5665 persons were killed in Manipur because of AFSPA during 1992-2010
(3) June 18, 2001 episode during BJP rule where the Manipur State Assembly building and many office buildings were burnt down and 18 people sacrificed their lives for protecting the territorial integrity of Manipur
(4) Heirangoithong massacre of 14 March 1984, at the Heirangoithong Volley ball Ground following indiscriminate firing by the CRPF personnel stationed nearby resulting in the death of 110 persons and injuring thirty-one
(5) Malom Massacre of 2 November, 2000 – the arbitrary killing of eleven persons including women and one child, who had just received a national Bravery Award from the President of India.
(6) The massacre at Tabanglong in western Tamenglong District on 28 December 2000 resulted in the death of eight villagers when they were attacked by soldiers belonging to the 15th Jat Regiment of the Indian army
(7) Oinam Massacre (Operation Blue Bird) : July 10, 1987 where Fourteen civilians were shot dead and several others died of hunger, starvation and torture in the concentration camps:
(8) RMC – Massacre of 7 January, 1995 – execution of nine civilians by the CRPF in Imphal City within the campus of the Regional Medical College (RMC) now renamed the Regional Institute of Medical Sciences (RIMS)
(9) Pebam Chittaranjan’s self immolation on 16 August 2004 for removing AFSPA.
(10) Thangjam Manorama was raped and then killed by the Assam Rifles on 11 July 2004
(11) Nude protest by 40 women in front of Assam Rifles on 15 July, 2004
(12) killing of Chungkham Sanjit and Thokchom Rabina in the open market at broad day light on 23 July, 2009.
(13) Fake encounter of Andro on November 1st 2009 where, 7 youths has been gunned down by 28th Assam Rifles troops in suspicion of militants (The Hueiyen New Service- 31st January 2011).
(14) Oinam Leikai Massacre on November 21, 1980,
(15) Tera Bazar Massacre: March 25, 1993: Five civilians were killed and many others received bullet injuries due to indiscriminate firing by CRPF. However, no enquiry has been instituted to date.
(16) Ukhrul Massacres on May 9, 1995,
(17) Bashikhong massacre on February 19, 1995,
(18) Churachandpur Massacres on July 21, 1999,
(19)Nungleiban Massacre on October 15, 1997,
(20) Tabokpikhong Massacres on August 12, 1997,
(21) Tonsen lamkhai Massacres on September 3, 2000 . Will the sacrifices of our martyrs go in vain. The Manipur Government has not made a single judicial enquiry report public. That is why people have lost faith in such judicial enquiry . Retired Sessions Judge C. Upendra said that he had headed twelve such enquiries himself, and found in all cases the encounters were fake, though none of his reports was made public.
Every political party except Congress, BJP and CPI is demanding repeal of AFSPA-1958 at this time of election. The national level election manifesto has not mentioned any word on AFSPA . The Congress, BJP and CPI have clearly indicated that they will not do it unless situation improves.
Shall we ask a counter question to elicit response from the people -why should the AFSPA be removed from Manipur (1) Why should we vote for Congress, BJP and CPI if they are determined not to remove AFSPA from Manipur . (2) why should we continue worshipping our Ministers and MLAs who are against the removal of AFSPA. (3) why should we consider it a status symbol to invite high ranking Military and police officers to our functions (4) when we are encouraging, welcoming and celebrating defection of opposition parties to the ruling party. Is it not a shameless action to jump from one political party to another ? They should apologise to the people who voted for them. (5) why don’t we have the courage to boycott the Ministers and MLAs who are living under the shadow of ASPA. (6) why should we accept small gifts from Assam Rifles and Indian Army in the form of solar lamps or Water filters, generators etc. (7) why can’t we be united and create a people’s mass movement against AFSPA . I heard Law and Order is in the State list but AFSPA is in the concurrent list –that means it can be revoked either by the State Government or by the Central Government. That is why our Chief Minister has revoked AFSPA from seven constituencies of Imphal. The Union Home Ministry, the defence Ministry are strongly against removal of AFSPA from Manipur. Therefore Our Hon’ble Chief Minister may be thinking that AFSPA can be removed only by the Central Government. The Hon’ble Chief Minister may ask the Prime Minister and the Union Home Minister why AFSPA is not imposed on Maoist affected states like West Bengal, Bihar , Orissa, Andhra Pradesh, Jharkand, Chattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Uttaranchal, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra. The Indian government has declared that “out of 630 districts in India, 220 districts are Maoist affected areas. The Naxalite Maoist insurgency gained media attention internationally after the 2013 Naxal attack in Darbha valley, which resulted in the deaths of around 24 Indian National Congress leaders, including the former state minister Mahendra Karma and the Chhattisgarh Congress Chief Nand Kumar Patel. This completely shook the political system of India. On October 31, the New York Times wrote, “India’s Maoist rebels are now present in 20 states and have evolved into a potent insurgency. In the last four years, the Maoists have killed more than 900 Indian security officers…violence erupts almost daily.”
The Ministry of Home Affairs has deployed around 110,000 military and para-military troops to eliminate the Maoist . The Ministry of Home Affairs say that the amount extorted by Maoists is around Rs.1400 Crore annually. Jharkhand has emerged as the largest supplier to the Naxal kitty by contributing around Rs.300 crores per year. : The Indian Prime Minister said “ India is losing the battle against Maoist rebels…violence is increasing” and “Maoists have growing appeal among a large section of Indian society including tribal communities, the rural poor and the intelligentsia.” Prime Minister Manmohan Singh recently described the Maoist movement as “the biggest internal security threat” confronting India. On Feb 2, 2010, Mr. Chidambaram, the then Union Home Minister said the situation in Maoist-affected states continues to be “a cause of grave concern”. Our Hon’ble Chief Minister may ask to the national political leaders “ If that is so, why not the Government of India , imposed AFSPA in all the Maoist -affected states. Why this racial discrimination even in the case of AFSPA. Do the Government of India think that the people of North East are expandable. If that is so , then why not our respected Chief Minister sit in the Dharna demanding from the central government with 10,000 followers : (1) lifting of AFSPA from all districts of Manipur, (2) Inner Line Permit System, (3) Special drive for employment f Manipuris, (4) establishment of an Upper House State Legislative Council) with a minimum of 40 members with provision for 10 nominated members, (5) increase of Lok Sabha Constituencies from 2 to 6 ( Anglo Indian Community with a population of two lakhs was given two seats) , (6) increase of Rajya Sabha seats from 1 to 7 reflecting equal representation of states as done in USA and other countries, (7) amendment of Article 371C of Indian Constitution, (8) protection of boundaries of Manipur etc. Arvind Kejriwal, Chief Minister of Delhi was the only Chief Minister in India who sat in dharna during the last 64 years demanding justice from the Central Government. The example of Arvind Kejriwal has been followed by other Chief Ministers. The Indian Constitution which our politicians consider as Gita or Bible or Quran can be amended to look after the interest of Manipuris. We have never exercised this right for the last 64 years because of lack of political maturity and clear cut vision of our political masters.