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Sinister Language Of Silence

RK Sanayaima alias Meghen, he of the royal family who once ruled Manipur, may be a hero and the most ‘˜charismatic’ rebel leader in the State to many people who identify with his ideology and methodology, while on the other hand, there may be many whose hatred for the rebel leader may be intense and far from identifying him as a hero, they may actually regard him as the devil himself come to earth in the guise of a man. Each viewpoint may have its own reasons and explanations, and while we are not here to judge which of the viewpoint is more acceptable, the fact stands that RK Sanyaima alias Meghen is a man one cannot ignore.

You either fall in line with his ideology and methodology or you strongly oppose his ideas and methods of executing his plans. Few are fence sitters, especially among the qualified, intellectual elite. In short the Chairman of the outlawed UNLF, dubbed the strongest outfit in the North East region, is not someone one can just ignore, for during the long years he has spent in the jungles, waging a bush war against India, whom UNLF dubs as a colonial power, Meghen has evoked a certain sense of aura or a sense of repulsiveness among the people and this is not surprising for armed rebels known to use force and believe in the culture of silencing voices of dissent in the ‘˜bigger interest’ for the ‘˜cause of the land.’

In as much as many are keen on following Meghen and identify with his dreams, it should also be acknowledged that there may be an equal number of people who think otherwise, especially after the NSCN (IM) raised the Nagalim bogey. It is clear that Meghen does not see himself as an Indian citizen and it doesn’t matter which country’s passport he carries at this moment, for such personalities can assume multiple identities as and when the situation demands. This much is clear, but the question of greater import is whether Delhi sees him as a citizen of India or not. A man with no Nationality? Or a man surviving under an ‘˜illusionary’ impression that he is a citizen of Manipur, minus the India part?

These questions are relevant when viewed against the backdrop of the deafening silence maintained by Delhi ever since BBC reported the arrest of the rebel leader at Dhaka, by a joint team of Indian intelligence agents and their Bangladeshi counter parts on September 29. The vice-chairman of the outfit has also gone public and announced that Meghen indeed has been arrested. Getting arrested, getting killed, escaping from jail, facing trials, being released on bail etc, are all part and parcel of a rebel’s life. In fact it is these features which define the lives of a rebel waging a bush war and so it is with Meghen too.

There is nothing much to say about his arrest, and as pointed out this is a part of a rebel’s life, but what cannot be simply swept aside is the complete indifference maintained by Delhi and Dhaka. The world knows he has been arrested but other than those who have access to the corridors of power either in Dhaka or Delhi, no one knows the present status of the rebel leader. In short the question doing the round is, ‘Where the heck is Meghen?’ Another equally important question, but which seems to have missed the eyes of everyone is, ‘Under what charges have Meghen been arrested in Dhaka? Was he taken into custody for possessing forged documents, a la Muivah in Thailand some years back, or did he violate any law in Bangladesh?’

It should come as no surprise if the latter question meets the same fate as the earlier question ‘Where the heck is Meghen?’ and it should also not surprise anyone if India maintains her stubborn streak and refuses to listen to the sane voices raised everywhere. The living example is Irom Sharmila Chanu, who has already completed 10 years of fasting; demanding the revocation of AFSPA with Delhi more concerned with what Rahul Bhaiya or Rahul Beta should wear while addressing a rally in Bihar or West Bengal.

The prolonged silence maintained by both Dhaka and Delhi points to a conspiracy hatched between the two countries and the first is the conspiracy of silence or indifference. Secondly, why should Delhi be hesitant in speaking out about the arrest of one of the most wanted men in the country? We believe in the ‘˜wisdom’ of Delhi and they would not do anything stupid that would aggravate the situation and project a poor image of itself before the international community, especially at this moment when it is lobbying hard for a permanent seat in the United Nations Security Council.

Post 9/11, Delhi must have been comforted by the new developments across the world, with the United States leading the way in cracking down on anything remotely suspected or linked with terrorism. Such is the situation here that this changing global politics appear to be just right for Delhi to continue with her policy and the result today can be seen in the very question, ‘Where is Sanayaima?’ However, it would do Delhi a whole lot of good, if it’s acknowledgement of the shifting international politics, where foes become friends and friends become sworn enemies, is put into practice and accordingly take the right approach.

In fact a little modicum of political acumen should open Delhi’s eyes to the fact that the Meghen case was an opportunity which Delhi never had- win the trust and confidence of the common people. Rather they are frittering the rare chance away. The world has become much smaller, not only because of the dotcom revolution but also because of the greater movement of people across continents and countries. 2010 is not 1949 and there is no way India can keep under wraps the arrest of a prominent rebel leader from the international community for long. As the Army and Delhi have insisted time and again, it needs a political approach to resolve all outstanding issues, but the stoic silence after netting, probably the biggest fish has sent out a contradictory message.

Delhi stands to lose a lot if it continues feigning ignorance and this reminds us of an old Manipuri saying, ‘Kamporna Kayam Kuina Meikhu Kupsingani,’ which when translated roughly into English goes something like this, ‘For how long can the quilt stop the smoke from coming out.’

(Courtesy: The Sangai Express)

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