The following is a transcript of the original voice recording of the lecture given by Dr Malem Ningthouja, Chairperson CPDM, during the one day public seminar on ‘STOP WAR ON PEOPLE’ organised by MATIDARI, on 26th Sept 2016 at Constitution Club, Delhi.
Good afternoon friends
My warm greetings to strategic friends, tactical friends, progressive individuals and democratic forces who have gathered here today.
(IN HINDI: In fact, I want to speak in Hindi. But there is a problem. Neither I will be able to speak properly, nor you will be able to understand properly). So, you have to bear with me for my inability to communicate with you in Hindi.
These days, friends, it is very difficult to speak out truth. Certain version of truth or certain versions of misinformation is promoted while the genuine democratic concerns of the people who deserve justice have been suppressed /denied.
At this August gathering, I, in fact, would like to club my presentation into two parts. One, to express my solidarity to MATIDARI and my happiness with the manner how this programme came into existence. And in the second part, I will try to give you an overview an outline of the situation prevalent in Northeast India with respect to Manipur. I will not delve into emphasising on factual events and all kind of narratives. That will kill time, given the time constraints that we have out here. And, as the speech has to be recorded, I prefer to rely on the short notes that I had prepared last night.
I want to begin with this remark that this day is remarkable. The topic of this public seminar War on People is really remarkable. I have addressed similar conference way back in 2009. After that there has been big gap on my part due to certain unavoidable constraints. Today I am here on the same topic again. I am thankful to MATIDARI for this.
This day is also remarkable because we have conglomeration of speakers and crowd from diverse political, professional, organization and national backgrounds. This day is remarkable to me because we are being brought together by prevailing distressful conditions prevalent in the sub-continent. I again repeat that this day is remarkable because we are here not for merry making in praise of a fascist regime.
Over the years, particularly in the last few months, we have seen escalation of carnages in the sub-continent perpetrated by the men in uniform who are supposed to be security guardians of the people. The Indian foot troops, called soldier, whether military or paramilitary or police or underpaid auxiliary contract agents like the SPOs, Salwa Judum or whatever forces they have given name to; mostly recruited from lower class for lump sum monthly salary, are being exposed to some kind of civil war fronts. I say again that this people, these peoples, foot soldiers are in-secured. They are living with frustration. They are living with war hysteria in Kashmir, in Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Assam, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and other areas where structural oppression is being enforced deliberately with muscle powers. They are exposed. I am talking about the soldiers who are being exposed to the war front. The soldiers recruited from the lower ranks. I am speaking on behalf of them little bit, mentioning about their plight. They are there to obey the instructions of the rulers that live on their blood and labour for profit.
These helpless foot soldiers, to defend themselves and to protect their salary and promotion, are being converted into an oppressive and killing machines. They are being indoctrinated with draconian laws to indulge in widespread carnage upon democratic forces, patriotic sections and the masses that are defending economic and democratic rights. They also suffer losses. And they also created lots of losses and destructions. And these soldiers, many of them are also crying due to pain and frustration. In the Special Economic Zones, they are crying.
At the same time the carnage inflicted Kashmir is crying. The subjugated and oppressed Northeast is crying. Oppressed and displaced masses in the Special Economic Zones are crying. Exploited labours are crying. Pauperised peasants are crying. There are only cries. Cries of suffering and cries for justice. I should say that, but one thing is very clear to us, the rulers that have designed these cries are not crying. They never cry. They enjoy the carnage. They enjoy the war. They glorify the war and share war booty among themselves.
And, of course, we are not here, to glorify them. Our gathering today is remarkable because we are here to condemn this carnage. We are here to oppose the war that is being waged in the name of the Indian nation, security and development. We are here to share with the pains and frustrations of the soldiers who have been misled into war of aggression on civilians. We are here to share the pains and cry of our people who are being subjected to a war condition that is being waged against their will. Our gathering is remarkable, because this is how we should begin our journey to build a powerful democratic force, to bring real development, peace and democracy in the subcontinent.
When it comes to Northeast regions, particularly Manipur and the surrounding regions, I should say that an extensive war front has been opened up under the policy banner of Look East Policy, which is now being rechristened as Act East Policy. Let me tell you friends. Look East Policy is not an absolutely foreign trade orientation. It has a lot more to do with … Well, India’s security and commercial interest with the South East Asian countries is remarkable, but Look East Policy is a hype created by the Indian State and its protagonists that covers up the actual geographical space and the mode of operations encompassing the North-eastern region. So LEP should be seen as an integrated whole where the Northeast is always involved. The Northeast Vision 2020 published by the Indian State substantiate my point.
My argument is that Look East Policy has created a vast geographical hub comprising the entire Northeast into some kind of Special Economic Zone of absolute territorial control, economic exploitation, political subjugation and, of course, carnages in various forms. What becomes inherent with LEP is the visible increase of foreign capital intrusion and economic plunder by big market forces. All these become symptomatic which are to be seen in terms of infrastructural components of what I would like to call aggressive projects to control hydro-energy power, carbon reserves, precious stones, minerals, forest products and, of course, market and labour. The components that have been tremendously enforced include railways, dams, mines, and forests resources (extortive kind of farming) and all other infrastructure components related to roadways, trade related buildings and commercial hubs. All these have brought about destructive changes on landscape, in the cultural ecology of the people, in the demographic harmony among the people (which have also) created cultural insecurity and finally income disparity and underdevelopment.
This policy comes along with heavy militarisation, policing, proxy wars and suppression of democratic voices. Therefore, when one looks into LEP, we also have to relate it with militarisation and increasing amount of policing. It is against this backdrop that I try to locate Armed Forces Special Powers Act, National Security Act, Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, Seditious Act and all forms of other repressive laws. These laws became legal instruments that give constitutional validity to an oppressive policy and very aggressive developmental projects. These legal instruments provide the law enforcing forces to unleash very very distressful reign of terror with impunity, that, in the name of defending India’s national security, development, and, of course, peace, or say, they call it law and order. It is against this backdrop that there is violation of democratic rights, economic inequality, denial of proportionate and sustainable development, obstructions to political peace and social justice. This has led to widespread culture of impunity and, you know that, cycle of violence by the law enforcing forces at the grass root become self-propellant.
Our speakers who have spoken before me have emphasised on the manner how the law enforcing forces have taken law into their own hands. The situation seems to be similar everywhere across the sub-continent wherever structural injustice and restive tendencies exist. On records, we already have 1528 documented instances of fake encounter. In January, this year, a killer cop confessed to me, before he made it public, that, he had killed 133 people. That individual had killed, that killer cop had killed 133 persons just as a game. Imagine! He was authorised to do so, informally, by the higher officials. In fact, this man was responsible for the July 23rd 2009 fake encounter in the heart of the capital in broad day-light. The matter was covered up by the Chief Minister of Manipur and the Home Department. However, Tehelka came up with photographic evidence of the situation and people resisted and the matter was exposed. After CBI inquiry, this man was suspended along with 7 other team mates. But then why would he confess now? This man began to feel insecure. He thought that he would be killed by superior cops as the case is nearing to an end. The thought that, he thought that confession could either save him or expose the whole modus operandi of secret killings being commanded over to him by superior forces. He thought that he had killed for the sake of the country but, later on, he had realised that he was just a pawn. When he was suspended no help has been coming from the government. No help has been coming from the higher officers. He had to live a very miserable livelihood. He realised that to save himself and to avenge for the crime that he committed, he confessed. The case is still pending in the high court.
What I would like to say is, like, the structural injustice and killing, fake encounters and sufferings, all forms of oppression go together. These are symptomatic of an aggressive and unjust war that are being perpetrated in the name of the country, in the name of nation, in the name of development and peace. And the war had to be halted if there had to be development, peace and democracy in the sub-continent.
I can only trust myself and the like-minded comrades who had been fighting for justice for democratic rights. I think, we have to build a powerful democratic forces on some common strategic and tactical agenda. Otherwise, we are all going to be losers.
Long live democratic struggle
Long live revolution
Red salute to the comrades
Campaign for Peace & Democracy (Manipur)
Seminar speech delivered at the public seminar on the 26th of September at 2 pm at the Constitution Club, Rafi Marg, near Central Secretariat Metro Station, New Delhi. Organised by Matidari: Forum for People’s Right to Land, Life and Dignity.
D Raja (National Secretary, CPI and MP, Rajya Sabha), Felix Padel (Anthropologist and Activist), Isha Khandelwal (Lawyer, JagLAG), Jagmohan Singh (General Secretary, APDR), Kamal Shukla (Editor, Bhumkal Samachar), Malem Ningthouja (Chairperson, CPDM), Mohammad Shoaib (President, Rihai Manch, UP), Mrigank (CPIML (New Democracy), N Raghu Ram (Professor, GSSIP University), Prakash Ambedkar (Bharipa Bahujan Mahasangh), Rajeev Yadav (General Secretary, Rihai Manch and PUCL),Rinchin (WSS), Shivani Taneja (WSS), Vara Vara Rao (founder, Virasam and President, RDF), Vernon Gonsalves (CRPP) and Vira Sathidar (actor, ‘Court’ and activist).
If you would like to hear the original audio recording of the speech, please click the link below