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P Chidambaram, Delhi May Go Fly A Kite

In the first place we should be raising this question, ‘Why the heck do we need security forces to escort goods laden trucks and petroleum product carriers like oil tankers and bullet tankers (LPG) along the two National Highways that is NH-39 and NH-53?’  Maybe Union Home Minister, P Chidambaram with all his Tamil Brahmin intellect finds this question too mundane to befit his attention but lest he forgets, we would humbly like to remind him that the these two National Highways, especially NH-39, are the only routes which connect Manipur to the rest of the country and the chain reactions and series  of extremely volatile situation that develop whenever an economic blockade is imposed on NH-39, is nothing less than stating the obvious, which is, that the livelihood or survival of 25 lakh odd population of Manipur is being tested to the limit.

Thankfully the people of Manipur have developed this mechanism of articulating their anger and frustration in a manner, which is/was not what the blockade sponsors expected or wanted. Geographically, history and more recently the bogey of a Greater Lim have had a big influence on how the people have developed this ability to soak everything in without losing their mental balance even when pushed to the limit such as the 67 days economic blockade this year and the 52 days blockade in 2005. This is a quality which cannot be easily learnt, but the survival instinct of the people is beyond questioning today and instead of appreciating this rare quality of resilience, the Union Home Ministry decided to test the mettle of the people further.

We understand that any decision to deploy CRPF personnel for escort duty along NH-39 needs to go through the proper channel, with the State Government working hand in hand with the Home Ministry. The arrangement is such that there is a certain period or time limit set for the CRPF personnel to be on highway duty and this needs to be extended within a certain period of time. And so it is that all Manipur bound goods trucks and oil tankers suddenly found themselves left alone without any security escorts and had to stay put at Khatkhatti and other safer places all these days. Now common sense, which has become the most uncommon sense amongst the high brow, intellectually bright political leaders, seems to have dawned on Mr. Chidambaram and the CRPF personnel are once again carrying out their duties without any hiccups. This is what haughtiness, bordering on the rude means.

We wonder what the reactions or responses would be if the Union Home Ministry had taken a line, that gravely affects the people of say, Bihar or Uttar Pradesh or West Bengal. Madam Sonia Gandhi would probably convene a one to one with the Union Home Minister to discuss the matter! What adds to the shady side of the whole affair is the belief of some that the Union Home Minister was waiting for an opportune moment to teach Chief Minister O Ibobi, who stuck to his gun and refused to budge when the State Government was approached to grant permission to Th. Muivah to visit his birth place in Somdal village. If this is true then it is the height of not only a juvenile mindset but also reflects the vindictiveness of the man from Tamil Nadu.

By commenting on the withdrawal and then again deployment of CRPF personnel for escort duty, we are not in any way implying that the withdrawal of the CRPF would be the end of the people of Manipur or its redeployment would mean lifting the burden of the common man on the street. Not only have the people developed a high degree of resilience and a somewhat near perfect ability of articulating their thoughts, and the reality tells us that nothing much has changed during the days of the blockade as well as after it was suspended.

The open sale of petroleum products, particularly petrol and diesel at the petrol retail outlets is somewhat of a joke played on the people for the queue at any petrol pump is as long as the ones witnessed during the blockade days. The basic point is, if Delhi is so insensitive towards the people of Manipur, we can also tell them to go and fly a kite! It does not need the intellect of a Chidambaram or a rocket scientist to see why security escorts are deemed necessary for the movement of goods laden trucks and oil tankers.

National Highway-39 is a haven for all the anti-social elements put together. They extort money from the vehicles and in a desperate attempt to give it some semblance of legitimacy or dignity the top leadership have even gone on record to state that what they collect from the vehicles is not extortion but taxes, for travelling through Nagalim. It sure is hard to say who should be feeling slighted by this very statement, Imphal or Delhi. We leave it to the wisdom of the Union Home Minister and the others such as the Prime Minister and Madam Sonia Gandhi, not to forget heir apparent Rahul Gandhi to work this out.

Did the statement of collecting taxes and not extortion, a direct assault on Imphal or on the legitimacy of Delhi over Nagalim? On the other hand, we have a Government in Delhi which has been parroting the Look East Policy at every available platform, but which does not care to clear the necessary files to enable the State to import rice from Myanmar. The indication is clear. If the Look East Policy or better trade relationship with Myanmar is not going to benefit Delhi and by extension the people settled west of the Brahmaputra, there is no point in spending time poring over some documents.

(Courtesy: The Sangai Express)

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