In the morning of September 9, 2014, the first day of Tarpon, when SMS started circulating about the twin ambushes at Manipur State forces by suspected NSCN-IM, receivers read the messages with disbelief. It is another thing that by a twist of fate, the victim turned out to be a Tangkhul (thus adding another number of Tangkhul killed by NSCN-IM) and the injured – a Meitei and a Kuki, thus nullifying UNC’s hate campaign that Manipur Government is communal. What was shocking was UNC’s rhetoric on militarization and how at the same time the organization has given the green signal to its armed brethren to use violence! Following day, listening to the journalists about how the Manipur State forces reacted against the ambush (it was learnt that they stayed away from the sites of the ambushes at least 20 Kms away and when the order came to return at Imphal, they heaved a sigh of relief and shouted, “Yaiphare”) and how Manipur Government responded to the crisis, then things started to be clear. It was a clear illustration of UNC licking a spineless Government of Manipur and putting salt into the wound by laying an ambush. In Manipuri it is akin to saying, “Manaleiraga khutpakna tharaga thadokrakpa”. Literally meaning “Sending home by slapping after twisting the ears”, whether one likes it or not, this is exactly what UNC did to Manipur Government, and further revelation is that Manipur Government cannot exercise its authority on its own without the whip of the Central Government. That’s why it could hand over the two cases (murder of Malue and the ambush by suspected NSCN-IM cadres) to NIA without even putting an iota of effort on its own.
Venting out anger, humiliation and frustration is a very natural human act. Fortunately, the opportunity for such a moment was presented on a platter by some student volunteers of the Joint Committee on Inner Line Permit (JCIPL) system to the humiliated Government of Manipur. What happened on September 8, 2014, an incident of physically punishing a Meitei employer for his uncouthness and high-handedness turned out into a Bollywood masala of an angered police officer (younger sister of the victim) coming to the rescue of the brother by bringing all the forces that she could muster. It was as if she was getting married and the police fraternity had to turn up on the grounds of fraternity and camaraderie. Then, what else could explain the turning up of 4(four) Additional SPs of Police and all available SIs and ASIs and other constables (rough estimate is 1/3 of the total number of State Police personnel sent on duty to UKhrul), even when she had jumped over her jurisdiction. Then they arbitrarily picked up 12 people from the Office of JCILP even when it was relayed to the police that they were having a discussion as JCILP had a meeting with the Chief Minister the following day. All these went to deaf ears. She was the vengeful image of Kannagi (from the Tamil epic “Silapathikaram” whose husband was wrongfully given death penalty by the King) who uttered a curse and burnt down the entire city of Madurai; only difference is unlike Kannagi our lady in story is a police officer, well connected and powerful, who can do anything! Alright, she has proven her points.
The manner in which the Government of Manipur has taken the opportunity or rather how it has unleashed its suppressed wrath of failure in Ukhrul is worth sharing. Call for total bandh by JCILP was replied with closure of all educational institutions by the Manipur Government (perhaps on account of the fact that none of the children of the Ministers, Education Officers, etc. are studying in Manipur. Mr. Suresh Babu and Mr. Vaiphei, are you listening?).This was followed by crack down on JCILP activists/office bearers and arresting them from the residence of the Coordinator. Then, the Education Minister invited some gullible leaders of the Joint Students Co-ordinating Committee, for a talk and asked them to gather for a discussion and revert back to him. In the course, he identified the place where the leaders would be gathered and treacherously sent a police team to arrest all of them in the morning of September 13, 2014.
By now it is clear that the State Government does not have the slightest indication of calling for a truce. If fact, it has created an atmosphere of chaos and trying its best to break down the ILP movement by arresting the activists including student leaders. Suspicion has gnawed in the marrow of the general public if the incident that occurred on September 8, 2014 at the Office of the JCILP system was a making of the Government. That the employer was made to say things to anger the activists and his sister sent later on to sabotage the whole movement remains a matter of doubt. Further, like in past instances when Government personnel indulged in certain activities blamed on the civilians, the burning down of the SDC Office has become a matter of public speculation.
Manipur has continuously fought against police personnel for taking laws into their own hands. Hundreds of Manipur Police personnel are lined up for punishment by the Supreme Court of India for fake encounters. Come, October 2014, some of them shall be facing the music. And it would be wrong to accuse JCILP for taking law unto their hands. In every cases of “pulling up” of non-Manipuris, JCILP has cooperated with the police and worked together hands in hands. Those who do not possess legal papers were immediately handed over to the police. This much must be owned up by the police. The altercation that erupted on September 8, 2014 could be one of the detractions as it happens in any movement. But this should not be unnecessarily made the focal point of destroying the ILP movement. Instead all should work towards bringing about a dialogue and amicably settle the issue. In this regard, even judges also can contribute their lots by taking a stance on the popular side of justice.
However, most important of all, the onus of such a beginning of dialogue and settlement lies with the young police officer. It is time she has to think beyond her brother and family as the issue of ILP merits attention and solidarity. Manipuris have for long lost in the vicious cycle of revenge and violence. There should be an end to it. Otherwise, if this historic movement for the implementation of ILP bites the dust, this particular police officer will go down in the history of Manipur as the one who sabotaged the movement. On the other hand, if she makes this sacrifice, she stands to win the hearts and minds of the people. In her long span of career and achievement, this little sacrifice would be the cream of all.
What is heartening in this juncture of uncertainty is the solidarity shown by civil society bodies such as United Committee, Manipur (UCM) for extending full support to the demand for the implementation of ILP in Manipur morally and physically. It is needless to over stress the point that more would join the movement, in spite of state government empowering security forces to control the people or by closing down schools and colleges. Success of any popular Government (not populist) is its ability to feel the pulse of the people. Ukhrul was a nightmare for the Government. But then there are also other realities. The Government does not need someone to wake it up from its nightmare. Precious lives were indeed lost. At the moment more can lose if you are counting education as one of the prerequisites of life. All these will be possible only when the Government restrains its police personnel give a fatherly advice to the angry police officer and release the arrested students and activists. Finally, it should try to bring an immediate solution keeping into consideration the long years of struggle by the people. Indeed suppressing the people’s movement will only make the situation worse. Finally, it is also time, the State Government starts taking certain decisions on its own, without waiting for the Central Government, take for instance, prohibition against entry of Th. Muivah into the soil of Manipur. That was the moment of glory for the present State Government which can put to rest the recent-most debacle in Ukhrul. Therefore, instead of unleashing its wrath and frustrations on the JCILP and students after the Ukhrul Debacle, the Government has to wake up and solve the problem hanging over it like the Sword of Damocles.
*The opinion is written by Yenning.
*The writer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
*You can visit www.hoipolloiandmundanity.blogspot.com for further readings.
(Courtesy: The Sangai Express)
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