There was this post on facebook which read, “ Today, we have a bomb blast and one person killed, a quake of high magnitude shook the State, there is foul weather and signs of an impending cyclone. Despite all this, the sounds of drums beating to the tune of youngsters enjoying a thabal chongba stretches on till the late night.” Though amusing a bit at first, the post had its cynical dose.
It seems that the public has gotten used to the various ills affecting the State, it may be man- made or a natural calamity. For many decades, we have suffered various afflictions inclusive of a fractured insurgency movement and the kill reaction of the Centre by imposing the Armed Forces Special Powers Act to contain it. Let us leave aside the other vexing areas of corruption, unemployment, drug abuse and a high rate of HIV/AIDS prevalence for the moment. When insurgency was in its nascent stage, the public used to revere the activists and viewed them as of having a somewhat Robin Hood character, a perception that they were there to struggle and support the rights of the oppressed public. As many different outfits sprang up, the separatist movement grew in quantity sans quality. There were various factions and different splinter groups mainly focused on extortion rather than focusing on the principles of the revolutionary movement.
The reactive crackdown by the armed forces empowered by AFSPA made many to see those in military fatigues at par with murderers and rapists. There are various incidents which need not be spelt out that describe the wanton disregard of human lives by the army and other para-military forces. Some officers perhaps had the notion that the Manipuri public was cattle and fit for slaughter ; that just to get a medal or promotion. At the height of such atrocities, one person namely Irom Sharmila took a fast unto death protest stance and is currently entering her 16th year. In an interview with her, she had mentioned with tears in her eyes that she does not want to be revered but just simply to be supported.
There has been support but as time goes by, that support seems to wane and the only times that she gets a mention in the papers is during her routine appearance at the courts. It seems that the public have left Sharmila alone to tackle the AFSPA menace and everyone ignores the writings on the wall. So, for the time being, we are leaving Sharmila to deteriorate at the Porompat JNIMS security ward counting her days in isolation.
There is also another question to be asked to the various civil bodies urging for an Inner Line Permit, as the past violent incidents seem to have polarized the communities more and Churachanpur still has not laid to rest the 9 martyrs who died in the anti-ILP movement. So, what has become of the ILP movement now ? Have some bitten off more than the chewable portion ?
Another recent development is of constable Herojit owning up to killing Ch Sanjit at the infamous Khwairamband Bazar fake encounter. He had mentioned in his affidavit that the order was given by a senior officer. The best part is that there has been scant protest from the public and the civil organizations have turned a blind eye except for a few press handouts. Moreover, it borders to being amusing when the Judiciary upholds justice by stating that Herojit cannot have a say in Court. Many voice that there are incompetents in the periphery of courtrooms and many can be paid off in the lower courts and higher ones to deliberately malign a case. Some section of the public does question that how much and who had been bribed. It is not within one’s ambit to answer so, but the pertinent question remains if justice eventhough delayed if ever will be delivered in the near future. The issue of the CBI not taking up suo-moto in regard to the new development is also questionable. Let us forget about the politicians and their stance for important issues of the State, as not much can be expected from them. They have already bribed the majority of their assembly constituency to win and have to recoup their investments in one way or another.
It is high time that initiatives are taken by various stakeholders to correct the murky state of affairs afflicting the State in so many ways, otherwise the self serving implosion vis-à-vis legislative, judicary ,executive and other conerned bodies only benefits those in the ivory towers. It is time to let out a feral howl and wake up from this dehumanized state. Let the voice of the public shatter the rusted shackles of oppression.
Leader Writer: Paojel Chaoba