Calibrating Violence


That violence is commonplace in Manipur today is a truism. This has been with a cost that goes beyond the immediate and tangible in all the stories of losses of life and limbs. For away from ordinary sight, this has also been leading to a gradual but steady rise in the threshold of concern of the public in general. Not only are people, even children, anymore alarmed by news of violence on the streets but they are also more likely than not quite unconsciously would end up calibrating them on a value scale. The familiar response of the public today therefore, say to news of somebody found killed by unknown gunmen, is that the dead man probably is not without guilt. The first presumption would be that he either is a gunman himself, therefore asked for his fate as per the dictum of “live by the gun die by the gun.” If not this, then the other unconscious presumption is he must be part of a corrupt nexus of contractor-technocrat-bureaucrat-politician, predating and scavenging on public funds and works. Forgotten in the process would be the act of murder itself as a serious breach of law. This hardening of public judgment among others, reflect on the serious decline in the awe and respect the law of the land is held by the public. Nobody can be blamed more for this than the custodians of the establishment. When they by their institutionalised corrupt ways undermine the law they are supposed to safeguard so much, nobody else can be expected to respect it anymore. This calibrating of violence on a value scale is however not just a wont of the hoi polloi, for even the law keepers themselves have begun to follow suit. For instance, somebody killed by unknown gunmen is almost a closed case from the very start. The presumption in these cases seem to be the crime is probably insurgency related, therefore no further investigation to establish its roots is unnecessary. This, in our opinion, is giving up the fight even before it is fought.

Indeed Manipur’s story of militancy is also, among many others, increasingly about corruption and abuse of the established system by its guardians resulting in a more subtle, and in every sense, dangerous corruption of the mind of the common masses. It is a story of how the destitution of the larger masses because of the selfishness of their leadership and elites, are recoiling on the society. The violence and mayhem that the state is witnessing is in this sense, a kind of poetic justice: “As you sow, so shall you reap”. A legitimate anger that sparked a revolution today has been allowed to mutate into a blood thirsty monster. But the seeds for our harvest of violence and lawlessness were sown in the acts of subversion of the system over the decades by the society’s elites and the political leadership. If even a semblance of justice had always been the guiding principle in the ways of the elite and powerful, the lawlessness today would not have been so unmanageable. A larger section of the masses were allowed to be alienated so totally, so much so that in their eyes the establishment had almost begun to be seen as a mechanism to protect the interest of rich and powerful only, and perpetuate their privileged position.

But the lesson has not been learnt, and this abuse of the system continues to this day. The poor and the ordinary still are almost totally disempowered. The best benefits of the system remain out of their reach and remain exclusively reserved for those who can either pay bribes, or else are cronies of those in power. While the cabal ensures they remain in position of power and in close proximity of filthy lucre, the mutant anger of the disempowered also have been growing unceasingly. One is reminded of the Hulk monster of the comic book – the good-hearted lovable scientist, whose anger and resultant adrenaline rush transforms him into the explosively destructive green beast, blasting everything in sight indiscriminately. The cabal’s debauched plundering of the establishment may seem immune to retribution, but it is not. The only trouble is, it is not just them but everybody who ends up paying for their sins. A true initiative towards a conclusive end to the state of absolute lawlessness and the oppressive cycle of violence which have engulfed Manipur can come about only when this unholy party ends in the corridors of power and the state gets to see a leadership that is committed to lead from the front, and an intellectual elite which is honest, capable and responsible.

Source: Imphal Free Press


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