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Patriotically Yours, June 18 Signed In Blood For Immortality

Patriotism is said to be the foundation of the territorial boundaries of the land…motherland. Patriotism is also said to be one’s genuine devotion and selfless sacrifice for the land one lives in.

And the people who have devotions for the cause of territorial integrity of their “motherland” or “fatherland” are great patriots. And when great patriots become martyrs, the death becomes just a door that leads them to the realm of immortality. Again, it is said we live in deeds not years. But martyrs continue to live forever in their supreme sacrifices not mere years…after signing in their blood only to become the natives of immortality.

Come June 18 and the contemporary patriotic feelings in Manipur will be at the highest even as the on-going mass campaign for the territorial integrity of the state will culminate in observing the very day as the “Great June Uprising Day” to commemorate the first death anniversary of the 18 martyrs.

Throughout the year there has been a constant effort to preserve the unity and integrity of Manipur. It is, however, the coming up of the month of June that is associated with the waking up of the extreme patriotic feelings to protect the territorial integrity of the state. June 2001 saw one of the bloodiest milestones in the history of Manipur, turning its 18th day into the latest Red-letter Day or D’day. That day was really bloody red in the real sense of the word… with fresh red blood. It was on that mournful Monday morning that fourteen anti-ceasefire protestors fell to CRPF bullets while at least 50 others were seriously injured when thousands of enraged protestors were on to register their strong opposition to the much controversial extension of the “Center-NSCN (IM) ceasefire’ to Manipur.

The sad and fond memories touch hearts. In the past, the historical events like the 13th August would whip up patriotism in the state. Today it seems June has become an august June after this contemporary issue of territorial integrity of the state have given us June 18. June with The augustness of the sacrifices of the martyrs and the solidarity of the people has, at least for the present, paled any other occasion.

This column has a run-down of emotions this week…With a heavy heart we join the people in paying emotional tributes to the “June martyrs’. We also share the emotions of the family members of the martyrs. Amidst the pain of parting with their loved ones who had laid down their lives for the state they must be feeling proud for the cause they died for was supreme.

The several massive sit-in-protest organized on July 14, 2002 throughout the state showcased the fact that the question of territory is very sensitive to the Manipuris irrespective of their tribes, castes and religions. At various places people were emotionally drowned in true patriotism. Everything seemed to be a clear signal to both the Government of India and NSCN (I-M) that they should not choose to remain insensitive to or play with the emotions of the people of Manipur. And last year’s roll back of the ceasefire extension should not, in the long run, prove to be only a “comfort-roll back” designed out of an even evil gameplan.

Facts remain…The killing of a few protestors failed to become a strategic tool of repression and it failed to frighten the Manipuris. The patriotic spirit remains undaunted and people are prepared for any eventuality for the cause of the territorial integrity. The center can not underestimate the sentiments of the angered people who are well aware of the fact that “ceasefire extension” meant the extension of the influence of NSCN (IM) to Manipur…to materialize the making of a ‘Nagaland occupied Manipur’ (NOM) of sorts. For the NSCN (IM) with Naga notion of homeland for greater political boundaries, the extension of “ceasefire” beyond Nagaland was crucial. And for the leaders at the center it was probably a la ‘to kill two caged birds with one stone’ setting them against each other to neutralize each other, overlooking the very fact that this leniency on their part would amount to giving legitimacy to the demand for a greater Nagaland.

For Manipuris, Nagaland exists only outside Manipur. There is neither “lim” nor “land” specific to any one particular religious or ethnic group in Manipur…neither Nagaland nor Kukiland, Mizoland, Meitei-Pangal land, Nepali land, Marwari land, Bihari land, Punjabi land…

The traditional boundaries of the state enclose only one home land’“’“Manipur with the image of a mini-sub-continent’“’“ home to various religious and ethnic communities having matrimonial and other intimate social relations. Even if one is adamant to consider an imaginary homeland specific to a particular group its possibility in the real situations is just next to impossibility. It is because such territories would always be overlapping ones thereby leaving no other alternative for the communities except to share the soil of Manipur as the common homeland … for a common destiny. Thus the preservation of the territorial integrity of Manipur becomes indispensable for the people of this state. And they are ready to sacrifice to save Manipur.

Yes, the crisis has been an acid test of the various communities in Manipur … their love for each other… their love for the state and their will to remain united for the integrity of Manipur’“’“emotionally, psychologically and territorially. During the great uprising last year no violence was resorted to against any particular community. It provided ample proof for the ‘will’ of the people to maintain communal harmony and psychological integrity in the state. All the communities in general and the ‘majority’ in particular has a duty to instill confidence to our estranged brothers and sisters having covert or overt extra-territorial loyalties and to make them realize that nothing is above their affinity with their motherland…Manipur. In thick and thin people of this state should remain united and be well-prepared to thwart any attempt to disintegrate Manipur. Our mutual respect and concern for each other will usher in long lasting peace in Manipur which is unwilling to bend or break up but ready only to evoke martyrdom from her sons and daughters.

For martyrs death is larger than life…as it glorifies them. It is like choosing a short life of glory against a long ordinary life of mediocrity. Yes the ‘integrity’ cause is enough to glorify one’s death. Nevertheless we would love to hate another ‘June 18’ episode forced on us in future. Still…June 18 will come every year. It would never feel watered down with any indifference to patriotism in Manipur. It will continue to inspire the sons and daughters of the soil of Manipur to become martyrs in defending the territorial integrity of the state. What good would it be if one dies after one’s motherland had already been disintegrated? Many would not hesitate to sign in their blood into the perpetual day of immortality if the cause ever evokes their sacrifice. Thus many are ready to follow the June 18 martyrs in their footsteps towards immortality.

And we must keep the traditional boundaries of this state intact so that the map of Manipur may serve as a halo to the pictures of the supreme sacrifices of these martyrs.

‘Requiescat in pace’ (R.I.P.) on the tombstones at Kekrupat, where the 18 martyrs were laid to rest, will always be echoing with the people’s prayer ‘May the martyrs rest in peace’ and in the IMMORTALITY.

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