A Meitei’s Dream

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Dr Irengbam Mohendra Singh     June 10 2011

Last night I went to sleep in Bradford City. I dreamt about my mama and green rice fields of Khurukhul, their tall blades fluttering in the gentle breeze, giving the green grasshoppers
a free joyful rollercoaster ride.

I had a spendid dinner in the comfort zone of our house, cooked by my wife who is a Cordon Bleu cook. I had Black label with soda while my wife had Glenmorangie on the rocks.

The starter was cauliflower and white stilton soup and the main course was cod fish wrapped in Parma ham, with roasted peppers, tomatoes and aubergines. A glass of red wine – Sauvignon Blanc enhanced the enjoyment. For dessert we had bread and butter pudding with rum and prunes.

I went to bed thinking of my childhood and growing up and career. In the mist and shadow of sleep I saw my native land, Manipur.

I swam in the dirty Nambul River in spate and dived in from the suspension bridge connecting Uripok with Sagolband. I strolled and played among the rows of tamarind trees along the dusty Uripok road. I went with the Uripok scout Party led by Moirangthem Gojendra to the Baruni Hill for the safety of boys and their girlfriends on the day Baruni ching Kaba – annual pilgrimage to the Baruni hill of our ancestors.

I heard the crow crowing at the break of dawn. I went to swim with friends in the ponds at Lamphel Pat under the shadow of the Langol Hills. I watched the cows grazing at Lamphel where sometime, I plucked a rare purple Konbirei (Manipuri Iris)

The epic tale of pride and passion overwhelmed me with shouts of liberty. I smiled at my tempestuous glee. But alas! I woke up in the middle of the night and recollection at hand brought me to despair. It was the political reality in Manipur.

Events seem to be flashing by at a gallop rather than the gentle hand-canter of yore

The political reality is that liberty is not going to come to Manipur in the foreseeable future and that the survival of our grand children depend on nothing but the hideous hope that one day peace will prevail.

In the erstwhile sovereign state of Manipur human rights and individual liberties were protected. But since India has forcibly annexed Manipur there has always been a risk that Manipur would defend itself by armed resistance, hurting its own people both in the short term and long term while hoping that the world’s “policeman” whether in the form of the USA or the UN may arrive to sort things out.

There will always be a government in Delhi that will not let Manipur regain its sovereignty and the government will function in the same way as the one it replaced. Because there are procedures of running a democratic government and they do not change.

“To be governed is to be watched, inspected, spied upon, directed, law-driven, numbered, regulated, enrolled, indoctrinated, preached at, controlled, checked, estimated, valued, censured, commanded, by creatures who have neither the right nor the wisdom nor the virtue to do.”  P.J.Proudhon.

“No government is ever in favour of freedom of the individual. It invariably seeks to limit that freedom, if not by overt denial, then by seeking to constantly widen its own functions. All
governments, of course, are against liberty…”–H.L. Menckenso.

But in Manipur there is an incremental feeling of loss of liberty by incrementally eroding peoples’ right to freedom because of the Delhi Government and the dictates of the insurgents.

Though there is no country in the world where the people in it are equally happy but in Manipur all the people are equally unhappy.

For Manipuris, the idea of an independent Manipur is an immensely noble idea and is nobler for those insurgents who have been sacrificing theirs and their families’ life. Manipur is not like Kashmir that wants to join Pakistan.

As life takes unexpected turns we don’t always get what we hope for and a meaningless hope comes to pick us up only to break us at the end.

The revolutionary movement or insurgencies began many decades ago. It is not going forward, if not backwards. The leader of a major group UNLF, RK Meghen is now in police custody. So is the leader of ULFA.

There is no revolutionary activity in Manipur. The agitation against the AFSPA is now in cold storage as there are no seditious activities apart from commercial activities like extortion, kidnapping and shooting of innocents, as the remnants of insurgency in the failed state of Manipur.

Still, New Delhi will not remove the AFSPA and is waiting for Irom Sharmila to succumb to her force feed.

Everyday, many insurgent cadres are arrested by the security forces and their arms seized, decimating the already minuscule insurgent strength. The Manipuris are in a state of inertia with no prospect of peace in sight.

Nobody in Manipur is safe and the education of school children is affected. There are so many young widows with their children in abject misery. So many grand projects remain unfinished because of corruption and undergrounds’ share of the funds.

A revolution (Latin revolutio, “a turn around”) is a fundamental change that takes place in a relatively short period of time. Its use to refer to political change dates from the scientific revolution occasioned by Copernicus’ famous De Revolutionbus Orbium Coelestium.

Aristotle described two types of political revolution: 1. complete change from one constitution to another and 2. modification of an existing constitution.

A revolution does not mean it has to be violent. And it can’t go on for ever. There will come a time in every Manipuri’s life when they get sick of trying to go for a change.

The progress to civilisation in Manipur has been delayed year by year. Restricted area permits discourage tourism in Manipur as well as non-resident Manipuri Indians. Tourism is the only Industry which will be viable for Manipur, giving employment to thousands.

The prevailing corruption and lawlessness in Manipur have shied away any mayang investor in Manipur’s economy while many qualified Manipuris seek jobs in mayang India and abroad, adding to other various causes of economic downturn in Manipur.

The question is how long will this political reality survive? In revolutionary terms, how long the Meitei revolutionaries who have been fighting for the independence of Manipur would go on while the civilian population who are fed up to the back teeth, will continue to live under the Indian military rule. Manipuris have no liberty unlike the rest of Indians.

Isn’t time for the revolutionaries to wear their hearts on the sleeves? Isn’t time for them to do some arithmetic and reassess the evolutionary survival chances of all Manipuris? The revolutionaries may come and go, while the public in Manipur remain in fear of when the next bullet is coming for them.

On the Plebiscite front, shouldn’t it be circumspect to find out its feasibility or infeasibility before the GOI takes further police action. Like all democratic methods, plebiscite requires
certain conditions for its successful operation. It has to be viewed from a background of
political, economical and psychological factors. Won’t it be prudent to have a gallop poll of a
cross section of 1,000 people in the plain and another 500 in the hills to test the temperature?

Likewise, for the Manipuri Nagas who are clamouring for secession from Manipur, isn’t time for them to revaluate the chances of their succeeding? They also can’t go on for ever. It will only delay their economic progress.

They have now devolution with limited power to exercise over their own welfare as a devolved sovereignty in an ethno-federated Manipur, though it is intended to work at the level of adherence to governmental institutions.  The combination of devolution and local sovereignty preserves both majoritarian democracy and individual liberty. This allows liberty to exist independently and simultaneously.

As independence or secession is not a commodity that one can buy, how long will the people of Manipur wait in misery while the insurgents themselves are sacrificing their lives in hiding? How long will the Manipuri Naga people wait while their own people are living in abject poverty?

It has been many years since Meitei insurgencies began. Manipuri Naga secessionist activities
have taken much longer. There is no light at the end of the tunnel. There are only dark clouds on Manipur.

An insurgency can go on for decades as defeat is an unacceptable dishonour. However, in the interest of insurgents and the Delhi regime it can be brought to an end with an honourable compromise acceptable to both sides.

Lead kindly light amidst the encircling gloom. Lead thou me on. The night is dark and I am far from home. Lead thou me on.

The writer is based in the UK
Email: [email protected]]
Website: www.drimsingh.co.uk

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