A welcome initiative it is and this should give food for thought to everyone. That some individuals have deemed it fit to come together and form The Anti-Bandhs/ Curfews/Economic Blockades Team should say something significant. Not forming just a group but also planning a public meeting on October 2 at THAU ground, hold a discussion/debate session and then take out a silent rally from THAU ground through Khoyathong, Kangla, Nagamapal and then come back to the starting point. Not that this will put an end to the culture of bandhs, public curfews, economic blockades etc but it sure can be the start of a campaign against the bandh culture which has become endemic. Enough has been said against the growing culture of bandhs and blockades, but obvious that no one gives a care to the plight of the common people. It is a free for all situation, where anyone can just impose a bandh or a blockade at ones fancy and whim and even as the anti-bandh group announced its step, primary teachers appointed by the Senapati ADC have announced their decision to impose an indefinite economic blockade on the Imphal-Dimapur highway and ImphalJiribam highway from midnight of August 26. The demand of the teachers may be genuine but subjecting the people to another round of economic blockade just because their service has not been regularised cannot be justified under any circumstance.
Obviously the call of the newly formed anti-bandh body will be widely welcomed by the people, but be sure that most of the social organisations in the State will not heed their call. This is the tragedy of the land. Tough to say how the response of the people will be to the public meeting scheduled for October 2 and to the rally proposed to be held the same day, but if the past is any indication, quite a large number of people may turn up for the meeting and the rally, but it is anyones guess how long the purpose of holding the public meeting and staging the rally will stay in the minds of the people. Manipur has witnessed long spells of economic blockades and impromptu bandhs and public curfews but not a single lesson seems to have been learnt from the past. Again it is also disturbing to note that all the blockades and bandhs are called or imposed along community lines, such as the marathonesque blockade imposed by the Sadar Hills Districthood Demand Committee in 2011 or blockades imposed by the All Naga Students Association, Manipur or any other organisation. It is the same with the case of bandhs too. So it is that while a bandh may cripple the valley it will not have any impact in the hills. At other times it may be the hills crippled by a bandh while everything is normal in the valley. Whatever it is, the initiative of the newly formed anti-bandh body needs all the encouragement from the people.