Exclusive (online) interview carried out by Campaign for Peace & Democracy (Manipur) for KanglaOnline.
– Why young student activists wanted Inner Line Permit System in Manipur?
– Why are they fearless to speak out their minds?
– How will the judgmental sections interpret their minds: are these students to be seen as misguided or forced to have political views and some democratic actions?
Read the background of this interview series: CPDM interview-series-why-young-student-activists-wanted-inner-line-permit-system-in-manipur
CPDM Interview with Manishwar Nongmaithem
33 years Old
Kakching Ningthou Leikai, Thoubal District, Manipur, India
Advisor, Manipur Students’ Association Delhi
CPDM: Where are you presently located?
Manishwar Nongmaithem: Delhi.
CPDM: Why did you leave Manipur and choose Delhi for your studies?
Manishwar Nongmaithem: I wanted to visit places and observe the conditions of the capitalist governments. Delhi was my first destination choice. This has also made me know clearly about the governance of my state.
CPDM: Which class are you in? please tell us the name of your institute too
Manishwar Nongmaithem: I am presently a student of tourism studies in IGNOU
CPDM: What is the purpose of your education? What ambition in life motivates you to pursue education?
Manishwar Nongmaithem: Since I belong to a system made for the comfort of the rich, I realised that I need a certificate too. I will use it when necessary. I want to work as a political activist to produce “revolutionaries” who can bring about a just and equitable society.
CPDM: What are your views on the inner line permit system movement in Manipur? Do you think it is a right movement? Please share us your thoughts.
Manishwar Nongmaithem: The use of the phrase “Inner Line Permit System” by the people of Manipur is appreciated. The people are united and have been demanding relentlessly to make this one phrase into an act. The demand of ILPS is to save the indigenous people. In this, the government has used its state forces to suppress my brethren agitators, mainly the students who have taken a firm commitment to challenge the government.
What I want to ask is how these tactics of suppressing the people’s movement has come into being? What people are witnessing and experiencing is just a symptom, the actual disease is veiled by the government and so people cannot see it or understand it. Are we going to blame the citizens for not having enough knowledge on this? Or are we going to say that it is the government’s trap or plan?
Before we start a discussion on ILPS, we must first know about the veil of the government i.e.; democracy. A great lie of Indian government will be democracy. This is the word the government uses to throw ash into people’s eyes to make the world a market place for the rich people. Its branches has reached my homeland Manipur too. So, I think we must have a discussion on weather we should have ILPS or not for saving the indigenous people. If a government truly upholds the democratic principles, I don’t think we need an ILPS.
Since many communities and ethnicities reside, the government might be at loss pondering which one community to protect and which one not? While trying to fulfil one’s brim, will it result in evaporating the others? This is a question well circulated among the numerically dominant meeteis, kukis and nagas. There are communities who will be at loss when there is ILPS. Are we going to hide the reasons forever? They say it is a people’s movement but are we doing it just for the heck of it? Can’t we find the answers to these questions together? If this is a people’s movement, why didn’t they give an opportunity for an open dialogue?
On a concluding note, I would want to add that saving an indigenous population is a natural phenomenon in a just and equitable society. We need to work jointly here.
CPDM: How have you come to know about the inner line permit system? Would you share it with us?
Manishwar Nongmaithem: I was aware of the mobilisation of students for strike in the 80’s by AMSU during my school days at home. The movement was “chasing mayangs” back then (they didn’t say outsiders). But when I was in Delhi, in 2011, as a member of the Human Rights Committee of Manipur Students’ Association Delhi, a group of people from Manipur came for demanding ILPS. I interacted and had discussions with them and from then onwards I knew about the nature and meaning of ILPS.
CPDM: Do you think the student community should/ should not participate in the ilp movement? Please elaborate your statement.
Manishwar Nongmaithem: The students should take part in the Inner Line Permit System movement. When it is a movement of the land, it is natural for people to participate in it. I am of the opinion that it is also very important for the students to do whatever they can. Old age is inevitable, everyone must be aware of it. But, there is a big difference between getting old and having an indepth knowledge of the issues of the land. This is the reason why young students should take active role in the issues of the land. Even if peace prevails in the land, if the government does not pay attention to small issues like lack of teachers in the school, then it is natural for students to come out and demand for teachers. Studying is the duty of students but when the society that child belongs to is burning, will the student still sit back and study?
CPDM: Do you think students who have left Manipur for their studies should take part in political activities of such nature? Please elaborate.
Manishwar Nongmaithem: Many Manipuri students study outside. Even if they are out from Manipur, they are still Manipuris. I am sure everyone must have attachments for their homeland and ethnicities. However, not everyone thinks the same. People stand and do for what they believe in. And it is not that such people do not harm the situation of the land. Few students who are out of the state take part in the issues of the land. Students who are volunteers in student organisations are the ones taking active roles. Most do not want to participate. This is because they are either scared or lazy, shy, timid, lacks interest or time, has no political consciousness or maybe the present situation of the government has made them so. I have mentioned earlier too that in the political issues of the land, the people have a huge role to play. So, it should be kept in mind that in “the people”, the students are also involved. It is the student stage which is best suited for a political consciousness and to get involved in political activities of the land. This is the reason I believe that students should not remain mumed in institutes which supports the government as this will render unfit to the true meaning of students. Therefore, I am not in favour of concluding a precious student’s life only to the confines of books and syllabuses.
CPDM: Have you taken any initiative/ active role in the ILPS movement? If so, please state it. Did anyone force you to join the agitation or take responsibility of it?
Manishwar Nongmaithem: I have read articles and pamphlets on the Inner Line Permit System. As a political activist, I know my stand. I clearly know my goal, my duty, and my responsibility in the ILPS movement of the people. If at any point of time an issue is brought up as an issue of the land at large, it is very important to discuss and dissect the ideology and goal of the individuals leading the movement. Because it will be wrong to be a part of any movement only because it is a people’s movement; it requires rigorous discussion. Similarly, the present ILPS movement, its genesis, and where it stands today, the people’s uprising, and the actions of the government, all of it must be discussed thoroughly. The student platforms provide room for debates of all sorts. This has given a wider opportunity to convey messages to young students and to the society. I have taken this opportunity to gather students (especially in Delhi) and have held talks and discussions on what ILPS is. We have together raised our voices to free ourselves from the demographic invasion arising out of the nature and policies of the government. Talks, meetings, discussions were conducted in different places with people from different communities. All these were done purely out of my own intention consciously and I think this needs to be done too.
CPDM: What are the reasons for the failure of ILPS demand movement?
Manishwar Nongmaithem: There will be certain reasons for the ILPS movement not to be a successful one. Those are:
- They say it is a movement of the people of Manipur but not all communities are involved.
- There are many people/communities who are not in favour of ILPS in Manipur.
- The actions of the government suppress the people’s movement.
- The Indian government too has put aside this issue.
- How many of the demands in the ILPS movement are valid? This question needs to be asked.
- The government is an experienced one in tricking movements and uprisings.
- The committee which is taking a lead role in ILPS has not opened its doors for an open dialogue and,
- There are many loopholes in ILPS itself.
CPDM: What do you want to say to the government of Manipur with regards to the inner line permit system movement?
Manishwar Nongmaithem: I want to put forward these words to the dictator government of Manipur which is using the mask of democracy in relation to ILPS. They are:
- Stop this war you have carried out against the people of Manipur immediately.
- Revoke the restrictions you have imposed on the people i.e; curfew immediately and open the schools you have closed down.
- Give justice to Sapam Robinhood who has been killed in the democratic movement of the people.
- Take up steps to normalise the lives of people you have much tortured to divert the uprising.
- The government must take up immediate steps to bring a political solution to save the indigenous peoples of Manipur.
- The moral-less training of the state forces must be replaced by a new training method which is in tandem with the people.
- If you say that you are the government but don’t do your duty then you should resign immediately.
CPDM: What do you want to say to the government and police forces of Manipur on the issue of ILPS implementation?
Manishwar Nongmaithem: To the Manipur police and the government forces: The citizens are aware that the condition of the government has made the state forces a buy-able commodity in the market. People sell off their lands and properties to buy any government post for lakhs of rupees. Upto what extent will the people of Manipur have faith in them? For the government it is compulsory to pile up money for personal purpose. So, it won’t be wrong to state that most of the posts in Manipur Police must have been shared among the MLA’s. Those working in Manipur police are all Manipuris. I think the police should not behave in this brutal beastly manner to their own people or for the sake of humanity should have behaved humanly, even though the government directs them to behave brutality. The student they have killed might also be one of their locality mates. What poisonous potion has the government fed them that they, the forces who are supposed to protect us, are biting us instead? Don’t they have relatives, homes, children and locality mates? They will definitely have. Which face of their personality have they hidden for their family members? We the people of our land who are working for our land; are we going to end up like this by killing one another in broad day light? Don’t they have any thinking for the human society? Yes, it is true that you must have been given dangerous weapons, fed obnoxious drugs and must have gone through tough training regimes. But isn’t it time that you start thinking for whom it is? It is high time that we together save ourselves from drowning into the plots of the government.
CPDM: What message do you want to convey to the leaders and civil society organisations of ILPS movement?
Manishwar Nongmaithem: I put forward few words to the civil society organisations who has taken lead roles in the issues of the state in relation to the ILPS movement. First, I would be glad if you could organise or give an opportunity to organise mass inter community discussions on what ILP is, its nature, meaning etcetera. Being a state issue, many burdens and questions are bound to arise from all angles. If you consider these questions important, you can connect through social media to clear off the people’s doubts. I believe, you will stand firmly against the strong tide of the government. Most importantly, I would want the forerunners in the movement who are working on the platform of students to have proper classes on political consciousness and ideologies. The victory is for the people.
Read the interview series: CPDM interview-series-why-young-student-activists-wanted-inner-line-permit-system-in-manipur
–> Interview with Haobam Supriya: ILPS Movement is a People’s Movement
–> Interview with Chingtham Balbir: ILPS Movement is not Selected Few
–> Interview with Thoithoi Huidrom: Stop not till the ILPS demand is achieved
–> Interview with Irengbam Priobata: No one forced me to participate in any students movements, I was happy to be part of it