Who was afraid of NK Sanajaoba ?

Sh. Ajit *

 NK Sanajaoba
NK Sanajaoba

NK Sanajaoba was born on December 30 1936 in an ordinary family of Nk. Ibocha and Muktarei at the eastern bank of Imphal River at Singjamei Wangma Kshetri Leikai, Imphal. No one, at that time, knew that a pioneer has been born.

He was not the son of a noble family. His parents, just like most people, served the king and his noble men. They were not rulers but were ruled on. NK Sanajaoba was born at a time when Manipur was disturbed with storms from all directions and in this dark rainy sky he would rise as a shining star, overshadowing the clouds.

The storm of confusion over formation of new Manipur and continuity of feudal-colonial rule was the political atmosphere that he grew up in. He was known to his friends for his witty comments on the administrative and political events taking place at that time. His childhood friends still remember his courage to make comments on political issues of his day when nobody could dare to speak up.

He began his education at Singjamei Wangman Kshetri Leikai, Khongman LP School now Torban Kshetri Leikai Junior High School and later attended Raja Dumbra Singh High School (RDS High School), which was a prestigious school during his time, till his matriculation. For his graduation, he went to Dhanamanjuri College (DM College) in Imphal.

Late Nongmaithem Pahari's book "Eigi Dairidagi" reveals that when United National Liberation Front (UNLF, henceforth) was formed in November 24, 1964 which is still one of the largest and oldest revolutionary groups in Manipur. And he was one of the founding central committee members along with Laishram Kanhai, Nongmaithem Pahari and Longjam Manimohon.

His comrades Kalalung Kamei and Thankhopao Singsit were the President and vice-President respectively. The eminent scholar and playwright Arambam Somorendra became the first General Secretary of United National Liberation Front (UNLF).

His struggle for justice and national liberation found a medium of expression, without any fear, in the monthly publication of Pan Manipuri Youth League (PANMYL) mouthpiece Lamyanba. PANMYL was founded by progressive and radical youths of Manipur at Guwahati University in the month of December 1968.

NK Sanajaoba was one of vital key actors in establishment of PANMYL. He became the first editor of PANMYL's mouthpiece monthly publication, Lamyanba in 1969. He was the driving force behind this publication. His publication stood out for its critical observation on Manipur's administration, which was a Part C State and Territorial Assembly after she lost her sovereign status in 1949.

Lamyanba Journal brought out the corruption, nepotism and the malpractices that went on in post-merger Manipur tirelessly.

His keen observations on corrupt practices of political leaders, administrators and bureaucrats of Manipur created a bunch of enemies against him. Still he wanted to show the people of Manipur that corruption became an inherent quality of the political system which the people suffered.

He was hated by those who were toeing the line of the political system which was based on inequalities and which generated further inequalities. His fearless expression of truth became a model for the educated youths of his day. But the government, unsurprisingly, tried to suppress his views in Lamyanba.

His home was raided by the police. The information of this raid by two police trucks was published as a letter in Lamyanba Journal in November issue of 1969. In the same year, he was arrested from his office. He was kept in prison multiple times in the 1970s when he was the editor of Lamyanba on different charges, including sedition.

His body was tortured in the dark cells of prisons. But his love of justice constantly encouraged him not to bow down in front of those who perpetuate this injustice. Police arrested him in the last week of April 1987 claiming that he was involved in militant activities. He was put in jail under the draconian National Security Act. He was moved to Naini Jail in UP. He was then released in October 1987.

Throughout the 1970s and till the mid of 1980s, the talk of the town was the writings and rebellious tone of NK Sanajaoba. For him, it was the political system which had brought injustices to the people and his quest was to change the political system.

He believed that fighting the unjust system would require a new language and a new style of expression. His choice of words and his coinage of new words to express the practices of corruption are remembered by the people of Manipur till today. The language of royalty or well educated literary persons is not strong enough to fight corruption in the political and administrative circles.

He saw that people needed a new language to fight haabijabis of the men in power and the system which legitimize haabijabis.

PANMYL under his leadership published books such as Whats Is Wrong In Manipur (1970), Manipur Today (1971) and Bharat Ki Loilam Manipur (1993).

Bharat Ki Loilam Manipur became a classic text for one of all. This book is a sharp political narrative on how Manipur became a colony of India. He also talked about the lived experience of the colonized people. He fell victim to the truth he spoke.

NK Sanajaoba took so many risks in his life because he believed in revolution. He was a revolutionary who saw that his political goals lie beyond the prevailing system. He followed those who have fought to end the political and social systems which created haves and have-nots.

He loved the people of Manipur. His belief in secularism was firm. He did not have a religion and rejected revivalism. He did not accept those who romanticized tribal way of life. He rejected clan loyalties. His vision was of a United Manipur, which is free from all forms of exploitation and inequalities.

He was a revolutionary writer, and wrote throughout his life. His article on the great revolutionary leader Ho Chi Minh called Khura Ho Chi Minh in Manipuri appeared in the fifth page of Chingkhei Hunba Journal in 1993 July-August issue. He died on November 11, 1995.

NK Sanajaoba had the courage to fight for a free Manipur. He fought for a freedom which rejected all forms of inequality. He had the courage to fight back all the injustices done to the people of Manipur. His words attack the wrongful acts of the men who possess power.

Though his loves for justice and for Manipur are still alive in the collective mind of the Manipuri people, Lamyanba Complex which is the epicentre of Manipuri identity and pride of Manipuri community is becoming a commercial centre. The footprint and ideology of our leaders are losing its ground to the younger generations gradually.

* Sh. Ajit wrote this article for Imphal Times
This article was webcasted on December 31 2019 and updated with correct photo on January 1 2020.

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