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E-Pao! Essays - Lest Ye Forget Ous Heroes Who died For One People and One Land

Lest Ye Forget Our Heroes Who died For One People and One Land

From my heart - Vashum Vareingam *



Dear people of Manipur and Readers around the world

Manipur is the birthplace of many great men who inspired and left with us with the spirit of nationalism and hope of life for our better future. They went through untold sufferings and harassment from the hands of the colonial political leaders of the British. They had a strong faith, determination, sacrifice and perseverance in order to give a safer home with peace and security for everyone of us in the "Land of Jewel" as one people. Remember our heroes lest we forget, Bir Tkendrajit, Charai Thangal, Thangal General from the Naga Hills, Late Y. Shaiza, and Radhabinod who are ex Chief Ministers who belonged to the pioneering generation of Manipur. (apology for not naming more names of our heroes).

Many Christian leaders who were very committed with their lives to sharing God's love amongst Meitei, Nepalis and their own tribal peoples as voluntary missionaries set a model for the rest of Christian leaders and community for taking own initiatives for peace and harmony regardless of religion, and tribes in the "Land of Jewel". Love to remember them in our history as our great leaders such as V.S. Phanitphang of Tolloi father of Dr Vashum Hoping, Daiho Mao and humbled leaders of some from Kukis community who traveled on bare foot to share God's love in our land for the past 55 years ago are the best examples of doing good deeds for others people and community in our history of Manipur.

They did not serve people for fame or power but it was the true inspiration and conviction of love for fellow people from God. They never used divergent and dissension policy to get support from people for their own leadership sake amongst different people groups in Manipur. Rather, they humbly created in the minds and hearts of the people a sense of oneness, same values, and sense of belonging as "One People".

In other word, they were very inclusive in their leadership in spite of resistance from some section of people. An integration of different people groups must be based on spirit of truth and feeling of oneness in spite of diversity that will show our maturity of living together as one people in true sense of nationalism for achieving higher meaning of life and opportunity for the better future.

The maturity of our commitment and love are tested through trials or adversity are unavoidable in living as one people. Our past heroes had set a good examples for us with their lives to mirror ourselves when the challenges are faced in various levels of life and our future seemingly looks cloudy. Our past heroes understood one another of their own differences but learnt to accept one another, knowing that the future would be brighter and more exciting when their hearts and brains were put together to solve the problems or face challenges to overcome.

Their priorities were highlighted toward the welfare and interest of the less fortunate and general public. They never became blockages to one another for sake of the general progressive life at large. In this way, we can learn to support each other in order to share the benefits of our hard work and sacrifices to strengthen our unity as one people. For example, If more autonomous administrations is created in the hills for hills' people or in the valley, more districts are opened to serve to the needs of community, we must lern to welcome warmly and support for it. But here the questions are who are going to do it and how they will do it.

But it is a simple calculation when people of different groups work together one people in the process of democratic system. Who can be against such ideas if it can bring brighter hope and future. Such changes are not for foreigners but it will be for the people who share the same vision and feeling of oneness for younger generation. If an international airport is going to set up in Manipur for the interest of her people and for benefit of the international community, definitely, those of our past heroes would surely come back to the forefront in order to fight for us as one people.

God has been blessed upon our land by putting us at the most strategic location near to Burma, Thailand, China, and Nepal etc for a good reasons to connect internationally for business and promoting tourism and peace in the world. Therefore, it also gives a great attraction to foreigners and Indians. Such ideas were conceived by our past heroes as we understand their intention and vision through their sacrifices.

Who are your heroes today for our land? There are many heroes who are working behind the scene. The leaders at the top at New Delhi must claim the responsibility if they are a true politicians of India. If the prevailing situation and brutal killings of innocent lives due to RAP and AFSPA in Manipur were today seen by our past heroes, such as Kajao, Charai Thangal, Tikendrajit and so on, would surely rise up from their graves and would fight to death for you and me regardless of Meitei, Naga and Kukis. Many more heroes are coming up to protect and preserve our land from few corrupted and crafty politicians who forcefully rule the people in spite of violation of democratic laws and without the public trust and support.

Today, we have so many politicians, lawyers, doctors and so on but what are real sacrifices and for whom they are truly doing? Many ordinary citizens are asking in their minds in Manipur. We are educated and having much better life than the past heroes who had gone ahead of us. But majority of the present politicians or leaders are getting more selfish and wise for the wicked profits. Many are busy to get favor for their kids into MBBS or MCS through back door. Our uncles are not gifted or qualified for MLAs but we are busy for him to get elected as MLAs for only gaining power and become rich within few months and years.

But what is the logic and benefit in the long run, if your children are living in Manipur where there is no safe home with peace and security at all. Manipur is a birthplace of ours, where equal opportunity or basic rights are deprived in the name of insurgency by using AFSPA and RAP which does not allow foreign tourists and businessmen and friends to visit Manipur freely. And we locals are also restricted to bring in oversea friends for business or social visits. Some of the opportunity for trade, promotion of tourism, human rights, peace, and cultural exchange are difficult to organize in order to benefit our young people. How shall we share with others who are keen to hear the story of "Polo Game".

There are many instances as foreign friends and tourists are restricted to visit even Naga volunteers who went to France and Italy during Wars times though they had significantly contributed for world peace. Those Naga Volunteers got favor from France and Italy for their honesty and faithfulness for which they were offered to live in Italy and France after the Wars. Yet they returned home to build better homeland in Manipur. Foreigners who met Nagas believed that Nagas are not from the Indian territory but from the Naga hills in Manipur. Nagas are identical with their unique culture and beautiful attires. The Naga volunteers who went to Europe as I mentioned, are true heroes for the people of Manipur.

More to hear the stories of the heroes from issue 2.




* Vashum Vareingam ( social worker based in Singapore) writes regularly for e-pao.net.
He can be contacted at vashum1972@mailcity.com
This article was published on the eve of Patriots Day - 13th August 2004

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