TODAY -

Athou Licha Heppa, NK Sanajaoba- Star in Dark Sky of Manipur

Sh Ajit *

 NK Sanajaoba
NK Sanajaoba



On a cold day of 30 December 1936, when NK Sanajaoba was born in an ordinary family of Singjamei Kshetri Leikai, no gun salute was given, no court singer was present. As a new person in Manipur, he kicked for the time in a dark atmosphere of Manipur, full of injustice, discontents, and fear of uncertainty. In those days, the fate of every single person born in Manipur was the same.

He was subjected to the strict rule of prevailing feudal-colonial rule. No one was free to speak out what he felt freely; one had to suppress his own anger. Speaking out anger was either a sin or a crime. State torture in one pretext or another was the rule of the game.

Young Sanajaoba had a strong agitating attitude to the system because he was so angry with it. He was so angry that the people could not open their mouths to express their likes and dislikes.

Unlike other middle-class leaders of the time, he had no followers but a few friends to fight the injustice and to raise his voice for the liberation for justice. The injustice was structured and hence to bring justice, the only means was fighting against the system. To him, a new order, a new Leisemba, was the only option available to the people of Manipur.

Challenging the system is not fancy work. The 'sleeping people', whose potential was great, were accustomed to the hegemonic socialisation of the feudal-colonial (or colonial) system. The soft and stylish expression of the time lured the sleeping people; so their sphere of consciousness could not be changed unless a new medium of expression of anger was used. The mind of sleeping people should be provoked with new vocabularies and tones.

The stylish expression of leisure class had to be replaced with rough and tough ones. He used Lamyanba, the monthly publication of Pan Manipuri Youth League, published since 1968, as his medium to express his and his friends' (Itaos') anger. The existing system taught the sleeping people to suppress anger, as it disturbed one's journey towards moksha.

Everyone in those days subscribed to the feudal maxim, Ningthou Semba Yaoganu, Ningthou Kanba Yao. NK Sanajaoba who wanted to change the literal Ningthou-system encouraged the people to bring out a new Leisemba, in which no one is superior to anyone, in which no Sorarel would bar any women from using river water. An order of Mannaba Khunnai, a goal of liberation for justice, could only be achieved by expression of anger. For the new Leisemba, new horizons are to be carved.

His new style of expression and his committed goal could appeal to the youthful minds of the late sixties and early seventies. His voice could gain its momentum gradually. History witnessed the birth and practice of a new ideology. With his witty comments, filled with anger, he exposed the reality behind the existing social reality.

He found, behind the rhetoric of democratic principle, i.e., Yukhal Marumda, corrupt practices of the ruling class, exploitations, and suppression of new ideas and ideals. The whistleblower exposed the corrupt and dark system; for which he had to face the oppressive hands.

Amidst the social outrange, triggered by the ruling class and its agencies, against his fearless efforts to wake up the sleeping people, amidst the suffering inside jail cells, he always smiled because his sufferings were examples with which the people would raise their voice against the system of injustice. His stand-in those suffering days was based on what Mao Tse Tung once said: In times of difficulty we must not lose sight of our achievements, must see the bright future, and must pluck up our courage.

The tireless efforts and endless sufferings of the great Athou-Licha-Heppa did not go in vain. His voice echoed in the sky of Manipur and a new tradition of protest was set. Understanding the habi-jabi of the system, his expression of anger is well valued today.

The voice for equality, not only before the law but also at all fronts and levels, became the mantra of real political practice since the birth of Lamyanba and was the basis of every single Resistance in contemporary Manipuri. The humble Athou-Licha-Heppa knew how the ruling class benefited out of the system of injustice, but he did not negotiate himself with the system.

On the other hand, he did not want the people of Manipur, the great Manipuris, to step down to occupy inferior status. The people should live with dignity, shaped by our own history and should protect the pride of a nation. Any act against any single person of the nation was considered as an encroachment to our national journey; hence, he was so shocked with the Indian army's torture on Rose or any single individual.

He could not see the people being treated as inferior beings. Awake with pride, not with begging hands for some material benefits. Understand the people as a product of a long historical process in this part of the world. We are not inferior people who need the mercy of outsiders.

His 'heavenly abode' is the Lamyanba Complex which was created by him and his itaos, for radiation of new thoughts and ideas as well as source of driving force while practising new maxims of new Leisemba. The Complex became a new symbol of fighting back the hegemony of the existing system. The people of Manipur still look at this Complex as a sacred place of the new order.

NK Sanajaoba is a dynamic person who fought conventional wisdom. Mere floral tribute to him as a conventional method of remembering him would not let hundred new flowers bloom in the Complex. The Complex should always be a combination of Lamyanba of new ideas and Resistance for a new order. Real understanding of this Athou-Licha-Heppa is to translate his ideas into action and to let his ideas grow in this new historical era.

Today, the people of Manipur know what he expressed, why he expressed beyond the style of the leisure class, and what was his goal, remember one of the greatest political actors of the second half of the 20th century; his itaos are still cultivating the gist of his fire. Let the fire be burned and burn every injustice; let the fire bring out a new Leisemba burn all forms of inequality


* Sh Ajit wrote this article for e-pao.net
The writer is a Journalist, Imphal Times and can be contacted at sanamatumsh(AT)gmail(DOT)com
This article was webcasted on December 31 2021.



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