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An Earnest Search For Peace

The yearning for peace has been a distinguished character of the human race since the beginning of recorded history. And yet the vestige of man’s other nature, that of conflict and struggle, remain strong. We have learnt a great deal about life, but pitifully (we know) little about how to live with one another. We continue to hate and fear, and war with one another. Thus, even we stand on the verge of a brave integrated land for all people of Manipur, we also standing on the precipice of tumultuous days for us all. We have seen and experienced past many incidents which are always fresh in minds and yet to be settled for all us ‘good’ coupled with peaceful living in the spirit of give and take (a great missing dimension among us today).

The people of plain and hills have much in common. However, the values of humanity and dignity of livelihood have been sailing rough and tough throughout its history. As I remembered my young youth life, there were times of happy moments and merry-go-round of various cultural performances by hill people in the Imphal. By now it has become a gone-by history. Old days were like the hen that laid golden eggs. I joined Thabal Chongba with Meitei friends at various Leikais till 2 to 3 am where peace prevails throughout without any fear. A real peaceful life then. Now it has become like dream. Time has changed immeasurably.

Plains people have always been in the saddle and is in the seat of power wielding position till this day. Today, we look at each other with an intensity of suspicion coupled with hatred in order to overtake and overrun each other. The condition has become like Hercules herding stone at his opponent. Who wins and who loses is the very game we are in (engaging). Peace is missing.

Instead, Meiteis are defending the causes as normal course of administration and labeling Nagas as terrorists, separatists and communities, etc. In this context Meiteis are found to be: (i) Solely depending good or evil on New Delhi, (ii) All possible means and helps must come from the Centre, and (iii) hoping all political parties (local or national) will together save the life of Manipur. All possible means have applied to curb Nagas from going out resulting the outcome as the hot soup. Spoon is hot and soup is not only hot but slippery. Peace seems to be far off.

In the context of Tribal people belonging to Christianity (not 100 pc) and the Meiteis’ system with its origins in Brahminism, Sanamahee, etc. based on orthodox values and with their view and concept on the history justifying the subordination of the hill people and the concept of majority interest is serving good. In this concept of democracy and majority, Mahatma Gandhi said: ‘In matters of conscience, the law of majority has no place’. As such majority mindset hating or dislinking Christianity (alleged as imported faith from Western) will never serve any political purpose nor gain will be there. Since there are Hindutva activities and communist factors in Imphal, the rallying force is also felt at Delhi against the Nagas. The differences are fundamental. But they do not justify fighting and any violent activities. Finding the way out to peaceful solution is our joint effort.

The basic roots of anxiety on the part of Majority Community are threefold: (i) Squeezed, (ii) scarcity of home products, and (iii) Nagas going out and enlarging scope with foreign assistance. These three fear psychosis trends are writ large and firmly etched in their mentality. And hence hue and cry from corner to corner in the valley is heard daily at varied degrees. Stalin once wrote to his officers that said: ‘Good words are a mask for the concealment of bad deeds’. The daily deeds happening and thus reported in the media are the evidences we all know. Hills are calm and peace prevails except the incidents on the two National Highways-39 and 53 that purely dissected against the majority community for misgovernance. It speaks volumes.

The phraseology such as: ‘Provided that….subject to ….. with the approval ……’ etc in framing laws and rules for hills are great insult and subjugation. In the course of Autonomous District Council implementation in hill areas Dr. Rishang Keishing during his Chief Ministership, Holkhomang Haokip, ex-member of Parliament have done their best without the knowledge and sanction of the State Assembly for extending the Sixth Schedule. Ignorance or bluff or pretext, no one knows. Again, the ADC Amendment Acts of 2008 totally lies with all the tribal members of Legislative Assembly. They all well knew about it. Why blame others only.

The fact and reality that had actually happened and deliberately and intentionally done against the wishes of many villages which are never rational and not applicable nor feasible were the acts of two MLAs of Ukhrul and Chingoi Assembly Constituencies. A clear example is: ‘Five villages were clubbed with far off (35 km off) distant two villages. The only reason is that those five villages did not support them during the last assembly elections’. Secondly, all resigned Naga MLAs are hypocrites. All who place their faith in COBRA will someday have deadly poisonous bite(s). They must make their stand public for good understanding. People are calling upon them to answer.

In the matter of hill people living or setting in the plain of Imphal they may account for about 0.03 percent of total hill population. Hill people can live without them though they are part and parcel of us. On the other hand they are not pawns. Harming any of them will bear no fruit. Instead, that will (if so happened) will be detrimental to peaceful living of all souls. Love begets love.

Meiteis slogans – Chingtam amadani, Chingmi-tami apunbana panganni, ama-amaga nungsinashi, Manipur kaiba yaroi, etc, all seem to be sham since we (tribal people) do not see nor perceive any tangible attitude of changes in the mentality and ideology of plain people. They remain stagnant and unchanged for the pure reason that they all are directing against communalism and hardships of plain people thus justifying all acts of governance of Manipur as true and perfect. This shows majority community has done nothing wrong. As such we hill people have become scoundrels. Entering into arguments will become a more complicated issue except we go for seeking peaceful solution.

At this juncture, peace process is a complicated idea. It is the supreme purpose of statesmanship. In our limited sense, it is the absence of fighting and that itself is a cherished goal. Using rhetoric like, peace, harmony, love and unity are good and yet they are to be translated into good deeds. (Repeat -Good words are a mask for the concealment of bad deeds).

Nagas for the past many years and recently, Kukis look at the Centre realistically. We do not work to undermine the security and welfare of any community. We wish to join any communities as partners in a co-operation among us all. But one cannot permit anyone to propagate its faith and ideology by violent means and threat. God and demon do not meet.

No State has special rights. All States, big and small have special responsibilities contributing its shares toward the common pool for good of all which is possible and necessary for peace. Past events around the world have shown us the right ways. If the plain people will only ponder and act upon the interest of its people the genuine effort for harmony and peace in the state will lead to suicidal effort for and peace would be further away. There is no time limit for calling peace as there is no boundary drawn among us. However, hegemony mindset of plain people is real cause to discern.

It is evidence that those who resort to force portray their lack of confidence in the merits as well as the historic inevitability of their cause. We have to serve politically, economically and socially to ameliorate our systems to best meet the needs of the people. We have to compete for that in place of competition for majority, stronger force and the use of coercion and intimidation which have the potential of destroying us all. A spark neglected burned the house.

If any critics wish to condemn Nagas and Kukis for our homelands, fine. If you or they want to condemn us for the vestiges of racism or communal oriented that may/will remain in our societies, good. Our ultimate task for peace is to find unity within our diversity. And the human ingredient is common to us all. Here the very fact that is bared to the very bone are: (i) the mention of Kuki-Kam is unpalatable, and (ii) the mention of Nagaland (lim) is like bee sting for Meiteis. None can deny this fact. What about Kangleipak? Is there no way out for us?

Let us be patient and thereby heroic. Let us not lower our standards. Our human values and our aspirations for peace are universal. As everyone knows, the meaning of peace and reality of humanity have totally lost their essence and values, here in Manipur. It appears that hungry for power and love of money are roosting. Government is like whitewashed grave and bone-filled cupboards. Fear to open them?

A political scientist, Max Kampelman wrote about fear that said: ‘Rulers who fear the people they govern end up fearing one another, fearing their nightmares, fearing the unknown, fearing the future, fearing for themselves, and they then try to instill fear in others. But fear does not produce loyalty. Affliction and pride in one’s system of Government must be earned by respect and not by fear. Fear, furthermore, is an enemy of peace’.

The plain people and other communities seem to having fear psychoses that Nagas will backlash others when a stable foundation is established. The answer to this is a bi No or Never. We are born to serve one another as humankind. Mankind is interdependence benefitting one another. Our lives are determined by creative social, economic-political systems and not by currency holdings. Here in Manipur currency holdings rules the day. It speaks volumes in many respects.

Seeing and knowing all these aspects of our present conditions we the public need not go into conflict but establish understanding among us that are best suited and applicable to life. We clearly well know the saying that goes: ‘The fencing has eaten the vegetables of the garden’.

We better come to the call of Abraham Lincoln; ‘Let us have faith that Right makes might, and in that faith let us to the end do our duty as we understand it’. We better pursue peace and not seek self aggrandizement. Power and money can never buy peace. Let us wake up and put down those corrupt rulers whoever they are (Plain or Hill). Peace be with you.

*This article is written by R. Rungsung.

(Courtesy: The Sangai Express)

(Image Courtesy: E-Pao)

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*The Sangai Express- Largest Circulated News Paper In Manipur
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