Why Not ATSUM-T Or UNC Or NSCN-IM Impose Economic Blockade For 10 Years?

I was really very unhappy when the All Tribal Students’ Union, Manipur (ATSUM-T) suspended its proposed indefinite blockade of National Highways and ban on National projects in the State beginning from midnight of 20 October, 2014. I would like to make a personal appeal to ATSUM-T or UNC or NSCN-IM kindly to impose an economic blockade for at least ten years at a time on any pretext. ATSUM-T or UNC or NSCN-IM should consider it below their dignity to impose an economic blockade of less than one year. Meiteis are easy going, fun loving and happy-go -lucky type. They never complained when they stand in 1 km long petrol queue for getting 5 liters of petrol. They never complained when the adulterated petrol is sold in black marker right in front of the Oil pump at Rs. 200 per liter. They never complained when the LPG cylinder is sold at Rs. 2000 per cylinder in black market. These were world news –never happened in any part of the world. They tolerated silently when the Nagas imposed economic blockade for 120 days. If they can tolerate for 120 days, they can also tolerate for 10 years.

Positive aspect of 10 years blockade

One positive aspect of 10 years blockade is that it will bring about significant changes in the lifestyles, work culture and political scenario of the valley people of Manipur. This will wake up the sleeping Meiteis and bring about unity among the Meiteis. Unfortunately, Meiteis has no leader, no icon, no hero. Meiteis are very shy to shout “Ibobiki Jai” or “Gaikhangam ki jai”. Among the Meiteis, everybody is a leader. Everybody is an expert. Individually Meiteis are very good and very clever. Although, they cannot invent new ideas, they are very quick to learn. They can compete with the best in the world in any field. Meiteis along with Tribals fought war with the British whereas the mainland Indians including Mahatma Gandhi, Motilal Nehru, Sardar Patel or M.A Jinnah and Jawaharlal Nehru could not do it. Mahatma Gandhi supported all wars during his lifetime. But he never thought of having wars with the British. Gandhiji described British Rule in India as “Love at first sight”. He wrote two letters to Hitler appreciating for his love for his fatherland. The Manipuris fought and won many wars with Burma, which was a huge kingdom with powerful kings.

History of Manipur

The Manipuris loved their 2000 year history of Manipur. How did the Manipuri kingdom last for more than 2000 years whereas all other kingdoms lasted only few centuries? The famous Roman Empire lasted for 1101 years (625 BC -476 A.D), Great Qing of China lasted 268 years (1644 to 1912), Ottoman Empire lasted for 624 years (1299- 1923), Mughal Empire lasted 321 years (1526- 1857), Maratha Empire lasted for 144 years (1674- 1818), Mysore kingdom lasted for 548 years (1399-1947), Nizam of Hyderabad lasted for 224 years (1724- 1948), Kingdom of Jammu and Kashmir lasted for 101 years (1846-1947) Do you want to know the secret as to how the Manipur kings kept the people united for more than 2000 years? Moreover the Manipuri kingdom had its own constitution before India had one. Even the British Government in London and the Burmese Government had recognized the history of Manipur. We, the Manipuri people should be proud of our history.

Historical facts of National Highways

Maharaja Gambhir Singh embarked upon opening of a route from Imphal to Nowgong in Assam across the extensive hills and deep gorges. He set out with three British officers Capt. Jenkin, Capt. Pemberton and Capt. Gordon in January, 1832. Altogether 700 foot soldiers and 800 coolies were pressed into service for this gigantic work. But the Nagas particularly the Angamese equipped with spears, muskets and stone boulders made unprovoked attacks resulting in the death of many workers. This route was the first route connecting between Imphal with Assam. The construction of road was completed under supervision of Lieutenant Raban R.E in January, 1881. This highway was known as “Manipur Road” for a long time (1844 to 1965).

During the reign of Maharaja Chandra Kirti, the construction of the Imphal-Cachar Road began in 1837 at the joint expense of the Government of India and the Government of Manipur. The construction was completed in 1844. The repairing of Imphal-Cachar road was again undertaken with the help of Sir James Johnstone, the political agent (1877-1886).

Relationship between Meiteis, Nagas and Kukis

The fact is that Manipur belongs to the Nagas, Kukis, Meiteis and Meitei Pangans. Without Nagas, without Kukis, without Meiteis and without Meitei Pangans, this land cannot be called Manipur. Meiteis regarded Tangkhuls as their elder brother. The Meiteis have to act, dress and speak like Tangkhuls in the Lai Haraoba festival since time immemorial, The Manipuri king had to dress like a Tangkhul at the time of coronation. There are many stories regarding Meitei-Tangkhul brotherhood. Without the history of Nagas and Kukis, the history of Manipur is not complete. Some of the Manipur kings must be Naga or Kuki as suggested by the names of kings.

There are more than 20,000 Nagas settled in the valley with their own Pattas. Meiteis do not mind construction of thousands of churches in many places in the valley. They do not mind even converting Meiteis into Christians. The Meiteis are so tolerant that they do not raise any objection when some of the churches are constructed illegally in the Patta land of some institutions. Meiteis are not allowed by law enacted by Indian Parliament in 1960 to buy land in the hills. Even if one Meitei dies in Ukhrul or Churachandpur or any other hill area they are forbidden to perform the cremation there. Is it the beauty of Christianity or is it the teachings of Jesus Christ? Gandhiji once said “I like your Jesus, your Christianity but I do not like your Christians.” Mother Teresa once said “I do not believe when you say that you love God. How can you love God which you cannot see if you do not love your brothers and your neighbors whom you see every day”? What type of Meiteis you are if you do not observe the Meitei traditions and culture, which are not part of Hindu religion? Similarly what type of Nagas or Kukis you will be if you do not practice your own traditions and customs of the tribe you belong, which are not part of Christianity. I met one old man in Ukhrul about 30 years back. Somebody directed me to meet him to know about the folk tales of Tangkhuls. The old man said to me “Now I am a Christian. According to Christian religion, I am forbidden to tell those stories now”. I felt very sorry for him to think that the rich folk tales of Tangkhuls will also die with him when he dies.

We are very happy that our respected leaders, Shri Rishang Keishing, Yangmaso Shaiza and many other leaders had chosen to settle in Imphal. The Meiteis welcomed all Naga and Kuki leaders to settle in the valley. We also welcomed inter-marriage between the various ethnic groups of Manipur. There are thousands of Naga women married to Meiteis and settled in the valley. You might have heard the song “Ukhrulda eigi thawai leihoure” composed by one of my uncles, T.Soraren.

¨ Explore alternative sources of supply of essential items –Petrol, Diesel, Kerosene, LPG cylinders, consumables etc. by expanding the Indo-Myanmar Trade Agreement. The import items under the Indo-Myanmar Trade agreement should include these items by increasing the number of items from 22 to around 100 items. Similarly the export items should include two wheelers, bicycles, cars (including second hand cars), and medicines. Presently, Myanmar is importing even second hand cars from Japan. The Manipur Police or Assam Rifles should stop harassing the drivers, traders and passengers in the Imphal-Moreh Highway. I have never seen so many check posts in any state or in any country as seen along the Imphal Moreh road. There should be only one integrated check post on the route from Moreh to Imphal. Another viable option is establishing business relations with Mizoram and Cachar.

¨ If the present legal system is not sufficient, kindly consider enacting another law making the Economic Blockade illegal. The Manipur Government and the Manipur Police should be able to implement court directives.

¨ Encourage drivers and passengers to file written complains to the Police against anybody threatening them in the national highway.

¨ Increase ex-gratia payment to Rs. 10 lakhs for drivers and passengers killed during Economic blockade.

¨ If the Hon’ble Chief Minister decides to use the Imphal-Dimapur highway, then the posting of about 500-1000 security personnel (Manipur Police, Assam Rifles, CRPF, IRB etc.) at Mao under the joint command under a senior Police Officer not below the rank of IGP will be required. The security cover of those 200-500 truck vehicles stranded at Mao should be taken up with meticulous planning taking all possible areas like accommodation, food supply, public relations, Declaration of Curfew or IPC 144 in Mao area closing business during the Economic Blockade will be required. The Mao Gate should be properly guarded and Mao Bazar should be covered by the Economic blockade. No vehicle should be released during blockade without adequate security.

¨ If the Hon’ble Chief Minister decides to agree to the demands of ATSUM-T)\ or UNC then a Pact of “No Economic Blockade for at least five years” should be signed before reaching the agreement. Let them impose Economic blockade for 10 years or more. No pack, No agreement.

¨ People directly responsible for killing, kidnapping or extortion of illegal; tax should be booked and punished according to law to do justice and instill public confidence.

In conclusion, I want to say that the Hon’ble Chief Minister with his absolute majority will be able to translate these suggestions into action in greater public interest. It depends upon the political will, courage, clear-cut vision and guts of the Hon’ble Chief Minister and his cabinet colleagues.

*The opinion is written by Dr. Khomdon Lisam

(Courtesy: The Sangai Express)

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