TODAY -

Why the cyclone didn't reach Manipur - An anecdote

Samarjit Kambam *



Manipur is a state surrounded by nine ranges of hills. It's a state of backlog ethnic groups. The valley of Manipur can be compared to backwater of a river where the water of the particular area doesn't move with the flow. Besides, it's very high above the sea level. So, if any natural catastrophic phenomenon such as hurricane, cyclone or storm were to occur, such phenomenon usually transcends from other states or countries.

Taken from a geological perspective, it is next to impossible for a cyclone to originate from the valley of Manipur. Since Bay of Bengal being the nearest sea to the north eastern region of India, the impact of a cyclone, typhoon, tornado, tempest, whatsoever will be felt from the regions nearer to Bay of Bengal such as Bangladesh, West Bengal, Tripura, Mizoram etc.

Nowadays, with advancement in science, the forecast projected by Meteorological Department is accurate to a high degree. But the 'to be' cyclone as forecasted by the meteorological people which caused a lot of apprehension to the people of Manipur and neighbouring states turned out to be a shaggy dog story where it was assimilated more like a buzz churned out from a well oiled monger mill.

Many anticipate the reason behind the non arrival of the much talked about non arriving cyclone. Topographically, it is a known fact that some states of the north east region of India lie in the Himalayan belt with Manipur locating at the finishing portion of the Himalayan range and thus the region offer stiff resistance against strong wind or storm from adjoining regions. Being a landlocked state with its valley like the crater of a volcano where its manifold range of hills act as a protective shield, strong wind or storms are further tamed by the nine ranges of hills when they reach the valley.

On the flip side, kicking away scientific facts, figures, statistics and information from the meteorological people at bay, it's not that hard to figure out why the much hyped cyclone did not reach Manipur except for a few days of slight drizzle. At the outset, the cyclone was afraid to encounter Manipur because of its uniqueness.

Which or what kind of uniqueness? It knew very well that Manipur is quite unique in bandhs, strikes, boycotts, sensitive issues, violence amongst its more than 32 ethnic groups, killings and disunity in diversity. There are also many other features that contribute to its uniqueness, the list is endless.

The features of the uniqueness, from the point of view of the cyclone starts from the very range of hills. First it has to sign various MoUs and SoUs with various civil society organisations of the hills, particularly Sadar Hills and their Autonomous District Councils. Otherwise it has to fast on its way or fade out of hunger due to economic blockade from the various ethnic groups.

It also knew that ambush is very common in the hill areas of Manipur. Since it has to traverse from the hills, the possibility of ambush is quite high and being a cyclone it can't travel on a chopper also. Where there are armed outfit that uses advanced weaponry and ambushes the very state's incumbent Chief Minister, it didn't want to take chance from lathodes and stray bullets of AK-47s and AK-56s.

Besides, it can't afford a customised bulletproof BMW or Audi. Then, it has to pay taxes to NSCN(IM) at their outposts, just opposite to outpost of police personnel be it Nagaland Police or Manipur Police. Since it has no money, no bank account, no ATM and carry no purse it would be a great headache to it.

And when it reaches the valley it can't carry out its cyclonic property to full swing because of numerous bandhs, strikes and boycotts. Non compliance mean a kick in the butt from various valley based civil society organisations and student bodies and it has to run from pillar to post to at government offices and give bribes and more bribes to carry out its duties in the valley.

Again, there's tear gas, rubber bullets and water cannons from the police personnel and sling shots from civilians. Sounds uncomplicated but quite perilous. One more pain in its ass is it has to wear a helmet as it conveys throughout the valley, particularly in Imphal East and West areas, otherwise it has to bear Rupees 2000/- as fine. But so far, no helmet has been made for cyclone. What an irony.

It desperately wants to hit Yaithibi Leikon and Canchipur but the present imbroglio regarding setting up of a National Sports University and reservations stir for ST students of Manipur University will make it land in a tight spot.

Actually, the cyclone, as per its nature might have wanted to pay a visit and have a little fun by creating havoc and return again to its place of origin as soon as possible. But it knew very well that, in Manipur, instead of it creating havoc, it will face greater counter-havoc, just like the hunter becoming the hunted; everything going topsy turvy. In fact, it was afraid to visit Manipur.

And one of the most important thing is that Manipur is a "land of no return". Everyday, hundreds of non locals flood inside our state, particularly to the valley areas for the "pull factor" created by the years of lethargy and egoism of the valley people is so great that whosoever non-locals that come to Manipur never return to their homeland.

So, the cyclone got worried that it might get stuck forever in the state of Manipur for it only wanted to pay a courtesy visit. Besides, there's the draconian Armed Forces Special Powers Act, 1958 which really is a great force to reckon with. The cyclonic force will pale in the horizon compared to AFSPA.

Amidst, if the territorial integrity of Manipur happen to get compromised after the Framework Agreement between Government of India and NSCN(IM) suddenly reach its Final stage, it might get stuck in the imbroglio of whirlwind between some majority ethnic groups of Manipur. Taking into account all the factors as mentioned above, the cyclone was quite reluctant and made up its mind to never set its foot in Manipur.

So, what name shall we give to the cyclone that never came? Could "Framework Cyclone" be more appropriate ?


* Samarjit Kambam wrote this article for The Sangai Express
The writer can be reached at kambamsamarjit0(AT)gmail(DOT)com
This article was posted on November 13, 2016.


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