By N. Arunkumar
“A cat may go to a monastery, but she still remains a cat.”
Once again the National Highway is under siege. The hapless people of Manipur are strategically at a disadvantage undeniably, due to the geographic terrain loaded heavily in favour of a few bandits on the route of the sustenance of Manipur, the NH – 39. Time and time again, this piece of real estate has been abused by all and sundry, on matters sillier than sound, and put the people of Manipur under all kinds of unspeakable despairs. The costs of basic necessities are steadily rising today due to this latest siege on this highway. And, once again, the solutions to this problem are a vexed issue, and not something that can be resolved hastily. The demands in this case, are of a constitutional nature, which cannot be worked out in just one sitting of the Assembly or approved by the Central leadership instantly either. Carving out a different district is as much a question of an all encompassing consensus between various administrative arms of the system, and not a one off government decree.
It requires ratification from various government institutions, including the defence and revenue collection nodal agencies of the country. Whatever grievances the people of the region may have in terms of administrative lacunae in the present circumstances, leading to this throttling of the people of Manipur, needs to be thought out sensibly so as to get the sympathies of the people here too. But, making the people suffer to this extent only distances the people of Manipur from the issues of the agitations, and creates disdain within them.
For this reason, no compassion will be forthcoming from the people of this region for the people of that region, believe me. After all, we are all living in a world where we respect the laws of survival, and the more the people of Manipur are subjected to this torture, the more durable will become their resolve to rise up and resist giving in easily to the threats being posed by such strong arm tactics. We don’t want a war between us, do we? We are peace loving people, remember?
The central leadership is scarcely bothered to ensure that the vital conduits of the NHs are maintained safely and without thuggery of this kind. We are undoubtedly completely upset with the attitude of the central leadership in their lack of resolve to protect this lifeline of Manipur and, continue to meekly watch as mute spectators while citizens of the land continue to degenerate and face countless hardships due to irritants of such nature. Where are the security forces now, when the time for real security has arisen? Are they under any standing instructions not to interfere in the matter and let the situation go its own way to teach the people of Manipur a lesson in docile submission?
Honestly, it seems evident that they are under some such covert instructions under ‘top verbal secret’. Why are they not going after the perpetrators of this crime against the people of Manipur, and ensuring that the National property like the NH – 39 is kept free from thugs who are having a free run on it? Is it not the duty of the security force to provide real security in real time in such situations? Or is the proxy war a genuine ideal of the army, paramilitary and the police agencies of the region?
So many questions and no answers! The puzzle becomes a riddle and the riddle rids our mind of sanity at the moment. We are angry. We are despondent. Are we to suffer this shame silently and still wear plastic smiles on our faces as patriotic citizens of this country? Why are we being treated like dirt? Are we second class citizens? Hey, these are more questions without answers. And, now the cost of living in Manipur is among the highest anywhere today, and for being so, we are to be a rich land. Yes, we are rich in many ways, but at the moment we are rich with dilemmas, inconveniences, and misfortunes. The Chief Minister seems silent on the issue, and strangely all the other leaders are silently watching the drama of miseries unfold without condemning or taking steps to ensure that we are sheltered from these misfortunes.
No one seems to be taking this issue seriously, or working towards a solution to the problems being heaped on the people. We are damned, and let us stay damned seems to be the attitude of the government too. To whom do we turn now for an end to this crisis? Are there no leaders worth some dignified thought in that area either, to talk to the perpetrators sensibly and appeal to them to desist from such cardinal sins? Or, do they also support this pogrom like instrument in treating the people of Manipur so shabbily?
This is a crime against humanity, and needs to be loathed not only by the people of Manipur who are the noticeable sufferers, but also by the national and international communities too. How can a handful of people be allowed hold an entire state to ransom to find redress to their issues? This is a belligerent situation indeed. It is a grave crime against the people of Manipur. In fact, the leaders of this agitation should be tried for crimes against humanity, in the normal course of distinguished human values.
However, nothing of the sort will happen. Everyone concerned will let the callous people who orchestrated this indignity go scot free and a solution will be cobbled together for some sort of temporary reprieve. The moot problem of letting the National Highway remain a lethal armoury to be used against the people of Manipur will remain status quo after all. A permanent solution to this has to be found out as quickly as possible, so as to prevent these series of total chaos in the Manipuri society. We are indeed in the doldrums otherwise and will remain ever vulnerable to the threat of humiliations being heaped on us, time and time again. In fact, the Home Ministry has to answer for these lapses in governance in the final analysis. But, the question remains as to `who will bell the cat`?