Fragmented Voices


A general strike was called at the beginning of this month. This was to do with the death of a young woman somewhere from Thoubal Achouba Bamon leirak. She was found death, hanging in the bathroom. The locality suspected of foul play. They rejected the suicide account as told by the family of the woman’s in laws. As usual, a JAC was formed to protest against the death. The JAC submitted a memorandum to the Chief Minister demanding immediate arrest of whosoever had a hand in the alleged crime. They have also reportedly demanded of handing over the case to the CBI. Apparently, there was no positive response from the side of the Chief Minister. This was in spite of the fact that the voice of resentment was raised from the CM’s own Assembly Constituency. As evident the CM is currently immersed in the election campaign of the Parliamentary Election which is only a few days away. He and his party MLAs’ are seemingly confident of harvesting winning numbers from the Assembly constituencies which they currently represent in the Manipur Assembly. Their campaigns, as far as the inner seat is concern, has been by and large focused at areas where they have failed to get expected number of votes in the last Assembly election. The CM must have comfortably sidelined the demands of the JAC from his home turf. His loving electorates are swept aside for the interest of retaining the seat in the Inner Parliamentary Constituency. Those of Mr Ibobi’s critic who have been accusing him of being ‘Thoubal centric’ in his outlook and approach, and that he has been abundantly kind to his Thoubal voters in job recruitment will have to eat their words.  There is a joke about Bangalore, the silicon valley of India. In Bangalore, if you throw up a stone in the air the probability of the stone falling on the head of a software engineer is high all the time. In similar vein, if you throw a stone to any of the state security personnel either standing in a group by the roadside, or to those roving in their vehicles for duty – chances are that the stone will hit someone from Thoubal in most of the counts.
Feeling dejected over the CM’s cold response to their demands the JAC along with the civil organisations called a general strike from the midnight of April 1. Declaring the strike the JAC had sought public support to mount pressure on the government. We do not wish to question the wisdom of the JAC in demanding a CBI enquiry into the incident. Though their resolution of demanding an enquiry of that level has figments of immaturity and impulsiveness on their part, the JAC in their appeal for support from the public seemed to have wedded to the larger issue of crime against women and children. The demand or their point of contention could have been more pinpointed by homing in to the crux of the crime and its possible leads instead of anchoring on a larger issue, which undeniably has been a pressing concern in the present context of crimes that has been happening in Manipur. On the other hand, the strike was called with the support from most of the civil organisations of the state. What is noteworthy is that the ‘all Manipur general strike’ was met with a lukewarm response from the public. There was no effect of the strike in Imphal and other places. Accept for the fact that the strike was confined at some pockets of Thoubal. This is not the only case where we have seen protest increasingly getting choked within the confines of the victim’s locality. Is it that the state and its machineries have become shrewd enough to blunt the voice of protest wherever they wish? Or is it that the people have lost all empathy for a crime meted out to their fellow beings? And more importantly, has the people become skeptic of the functioning of the civil organisations, which has to do with their calls for public support in the time of need et al? As for us, the answer is affirmative for all questions.


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