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APSCS Face To Face With The Union Home Minister At Imphal

Union Home Minister, Shri P. Chidambaram had a meeting with Governor Gurbachan Jagat at Raj Bhawan on the 15th of Dec, 2010 on the eve of his departure for the National capital. Chief Minister Shri O. Ibobi Singh was also with him during the meeting. The Association of Premier State College Seniors (APSCS) represented by four members submitted a memorandum to the visiting Minister. General Secretary Dr. A.K. Chishti spoke on behalf of the association introducing themselves as academics retired from the service, with no political affiliation but believing in the principle of ‘the best politics is not to play politics’. While extending a hearty welcome to the visiting Home Minister the spokesman described Shri P. Chidambaram as a young leader with unassuming nature from the beginning that impressed them very much and they wished to see him as the same Chidambaram though a Home Minister now.

The spokesman while drawing the attention to the memorandum just submitted to him also noted that, the association has the record of submitting representations to the President, the Prime Minister during their visits to Manipur in Oct, 2006 and Jan, 2007. Memorandum was also submitted to the Home Minister earlier on the same issue as raised in the present memorandum and APSCS has been in touch with the Ministry since then. Thanks to the President’s office for acknowledging the receipt of the memorandum. No other replies than the above was received.

A pen picture of the dialogue that followed based on the memorandum to the Home Minister will be of public interest, the association observes. There was no media coverage of the said meeting.

The memorandum emphasized on three main issues:

1. The NH-39 and the crying need for smooth regulation of the traffic.

2. The territorial integrity of Manipur – protecting and preserving the original size ­ the necessity of amending the Art 3 of the Constitution to safeguard the interest of all small size States.

3. AFSPA:

Dr. A.K. Chishti (G.S) – The NH-39 or the Imphal – Dimapur Road being the lifeline of Manipur connecting with the States outside, transportation of essential commodities from outside to Manipur and the movement of people etc heavily depend on this road. In fact, this NH-39 is more important than the NH-53. Any sort of obstruction affecting normal and regular flow of traffic impacts on the State economy adversely; prices of essential commodities imported from outside shoot up sky high. General public can’t enjoy the air travel like the rich people. Sometimes our State students fail to go outside for admission and studies. Our people have been the victims of the economic blockades called by the hill-based organizations off and on. It was in this connection that the association took the occasion to make it a crying need for the Central authority to address the issue inter alia presented in the memorandum to the President. In that the association put forward the suggestion for the opening of an out-post of the Home Ministry at Imphal so that when even blockade or obstruction was called it was immediately and effectively tackled by the Central office that the NH-39 remain open and free from any kind of obstructions to the movement. According to our knowledge, the memorandum was forwarded to the Ministry of Home Affairs which is concerned with the matter and we were also suggested to be in touch with the Ministry directly. That we did without loss of time. As a result, the Home Ministry office wrote a letter to the Chief Secretary, Govt of Manipur for furnishing a report for necessary action deemed proper. The Home Ministry’s concern though there was, the State Govt. never acted in time – and due to its complacency the blockade and suffering of the people continue. The 6th May incident at the Mao Gate could have been-avoided had the Govt. heeded to our suggestion. The hill based blockade is over, now the valley based blockade is in force. The organization that raised its voice in unison with the people against the economic blockade called by the hill based organization is committing the same crime. Where is the solution? Will we continue to face the same situation as before? We are sure if this blockade on the NH-39 is regulated properly, there will be sudden fall of the price and present State economy will be reversed.

P. Chidambaram:

The people of the State suffer when hill-based organizations block the highways. The same situation boomeranged when valley based bodies call bandh. Ironically, both valley and hill organizations commit the same mistake. So, should I ask the security forces to shoot them? Two boys died in the 6th May incident at Mao Gate.

G.S and the delegates:

No, No, we never asked you to kill. We asked you to protect the people moving along the road (NH-39). Why should we ask you to kill? We are also sorry for the unfortunate incident. Entire people are against the blockade.

G.S – The statement you have made that appears in today’s local dailies that students & public should come out to raise their protests against the economic­ blockade surprises us. Our hope and expectation from the Home Ministry and you that the National Highways will be properly regulated by the forces deployed, is belied. Why should the students come out to protest and why should the public do that and also how can the entire people give opinion against this blockade. Where is the mechanism to do that?

H.M – Students are very smart and mature, better than others. Elders keep quite. So, active students or youths should come out.

G.S – That is a different matter. Law and order problem is your problem. It is the duty of the elected representatives to act. It is your concern.

H.M – We have brought the forces – the road is free for people to move.

G.S – Are you satisfied with the situation?

The second issue is the territorial integrity of Manipur State. Assurances were given many times by the leaders whenever the matter came up. You have also assured again that the Manipur’s territorial integrity will be protected. Our association made it also a point in the memorandum. That the demand for Greater Nagaland is there, that our State land area is claimed, our territorial integrity remains threatened always. Our contention is that our State is very small to be broken. Art 3 of the Constitution allows the making and unmaking of a State big or small without limit in size. Only the amendment of the Art 3 can protect and preserve originally small size states like ours.

Fusion and fission demand should not be considered in respect of small size-States. Our State Legislative Assembly also adopted a unanimous resolution recently in favor of the amendment. This is the voice of the entire people of Manipur. We are sorry that you have not said anything in regard to the process and progress made in this respect as we expected that you would do.

H.M listened attentively.

G.S – The issue of lifting AFSPA remains still. The entire people of Manipur will be happy to see it lifted. This is the demand of the people. Already some segments in and around the Municipality area are not under AFSPA and we find no problem except that of June 23rd incident. Why don’t you give a chance to the people to feel free? If the situation demands it can be reviewed. People will be very happy if this demand is considered.

Another matter is that of starting talk between the non-State actors and the Central Govt. Why have you not started the talk still? You talk at the earliest. In that elders should also be involved. How long will this situation continue? It ‘˜should not continue into uncertainty.

Dr. K Nabachandra Singh, one of the delegates – We do hope that you will certainly look into the matter raised by the association and take up prompt action in the larger interest of all the people.

Analytical view:

The Association (APSCS) feels that the meeting with the Union Home Minister assumes significance and wishes to spell out its own analysis for public consumption.

On the statement of the Home Minister in retort to the query of the association over the issue of students & People’s raising protest against the blockade – we are of the view that in doing so it would signal a wrong message to the people at large and to the youngsters in particular. Instead of ushering youngsters in the zone of understanding they would rather be shoveled in the zone of confrontation. In view of the volatile situation holding sway all over the State, nothing could be more pernicious for the administration of a state like Manipur nurturing a pluralistic society than the utterance of statements without critical evaluation of the objective factors involved in the issue. In the absence of prudent exercise, it would be sectarian, perhaps communal in character. We feel that weightage should not be given to provocations hurled by hill­based organizations. It will be unfortunate again if the valley people/organization adopt the same retaliation. We feel that the Hon’ble Minister uttered it inadvertently.

We for one, feel that the Centre should not lose sight of the patience the majority people of Manipur has been maintaining against the series of provocations’. Judging from the angle of rationality and

humanity the people of Manipur really deserves appreciation that could also essentially be a tenet of maturity.

*The article is written by Dr AK Chishti

*The writer is the General Secretary, The Association of Premier State College Seniors, Manipur.

(Courtesy: The Sangai Express)

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