Ugly lesson


Even as the atrocious blockade by the United Naga Council along Manipur’s two major lifelines continues on the issue of the proposal for creation of two new administrative districts, all this despite the full knowledge how this is on an incremental basis embittering the relations between different communities in the state, nobody would have missed certain ironies that are unfolding with it. On the Dimapur road, until they were escorted to the capital from where they were stranded, over 500 freight vehicles were parked in different places in Nagaland state, some of them just across the Manipur border, braving the winter cold, and while these trucks were there, their drivers and handymen were extended warm hospitality by residents of the neighbouring states. Nagaland, the core of the Naga homeland, remained neutral to what they probably see as essentially a Manipur issue. At least its people were not so carried away to jump in blindly to support this madness of what must be the ultimate act of indiscriminate provocation.

Ordinary folks in Manipur are today expectedly in difficulty, as prices of essential commodities are shooting up, but thankfully the state grows at least enough food to sustain. If this were not so, it is anybody’s guess what mayhem would have resulted by now, and in all likelihood, taken a communal colour too, for the provocation undoubtedly is communal. If a level of food security has been Manipur’s saving grace in times of these crises, it must be added there is another which can only be described only as an extraordinary resilience of its people. They have withstood similar blockades in the past, and despite tensions, not allowed the matter to acquire any overt communal overtones. But it must be remembered the ground the state stands on is as dry as cinders, and nobody should rest assured that things will not go out of hand just because it did not in the past. In these times of crisis, it must also be appreciated that the Manipur High Court has been reverting to an activist role, strongly reminding and compelling the State government to ensure this illegal blockade and now counter-blockades, are opened so that essential supplies reaching the common people are not choked altogether. The state government ought to have done all this without the court having to prompt it, but perhaps this is a safer route to right action, for as we have seen in the past, even breaking bandhs and blockades have been given sinister twists of communal bias on the part of the government by all the street smart but literacy starved leaders of so called apex organisations. It is perhaps for this reason that many of these apex bodies have today been shown the door in neighbouring Nagaland. In these regards, those of us in Manipur have plenty to learn from the way the citizenry collectives in Nagaland have gathered courage to call a spade a spade.

Law and order is a state subject but since the current trouble involves security on national highways, the Centre too should have taken some interest in bringing back normalcy. But for reasons best known to itself, it has not made any visible move, feeding the strong suspicion, unfounded or not, amongst many here that the trouble has the tacit blessing of the Centre in its eagerness to sign an accord with the NSCN(IM). Well, an accord is welcome, but it should be to promote peace and not at the cost of it. The question is, would the Centre for instance have allowed such a blockade to happen in Haryana or West Bengal? If any of the peace peddling minions of the power that be at the Centre who call themselves conflict resolution experts think destroying Manipur, or any other states in the Northeast will bring peace in the region, let them think again.

In the meantime, we hope sanity returns in the state before anything worse happens. Let the unwinding process be allowed to begin. If the blockade ends, it is anybody’s guess that the counter-blockades, wherever they are being pursued, will end instantly. As for the districts creation issue, let it be thrashed out more so no genuine interests are hurt. Here too, except where reserved and non-reserved category lands overlap, there ought to have been nothing to dispute. What difference would it be for any village to belong to Senapati or Ukhrul or SADAR Hills, except in matters of proximity to the district headquarters, so the ordinary people get their routine official matters settled more easily. In fact, even where reserved and non-reserved district rub shoulders, there have been little difficulties in ordinary people getting their official works done from either districts, whichever is closer and more accessible to them. The number of motor vehicles in Bishenpur bearing Churachandpur number plates or vice versa, would bear testimony.

Source: Imphal Free Press


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