TODAY -

Emerging manifestation of armed violence and nationalism as reflected in Manipuri literature
- Part 3 -

H. Ibotombi Khuman *



Conclusion Manipur is a pluralistic society inhabited by about 40 different communities. Owing to their common physical traits and appearances, and common genesis, and with many cases of inter-marriage, they all have been harmoniously livingin peaceful co-existence.

But unfortunately, in the recent trend, there have been an upsurge of preference of exclusive ethnic identity overriding the collective pluralistic identity.

Assertions for exclusive ethnic homeland by the Kukis and the Nagas have started threatening the holistic and pluralistic identity and integrity of Manipur.

It is, in fact very timely, that Government had entered into some sort of peace arrangement with armed insurgent groups, either in the form of Suspension of Operation (SoO) or some other. Let it speedily arrived at solution and restore peace to the society and state of Manipur.

Armed Forces Special powers Act (AFSPA), 1958, was imposed in the Northeastern states of India to contain and suppress the armed insurgent uprising arising out of the discontentment and wrongs that happened in India's post-independence.

It led to rampant human rights violation in the form of combing operation, atrocities, human degradation, extra-judicial killing, physical disappearance, custodial death, molestation, rape, fake encounter killing, massacre, village collective fine etc.

In the year 2004, Thangjam Manaroma, after being arrested from her home, was raped in custody and brutally murdered and later found her bullet-ridden body abandoned in a field. It led to intense protest. Consequently cases of human rights violation were to some extent scaled down.

The Supreme Court also intervened by obliging the army headquarters to issue "List of Dos and Don'ts while acting under the AFSPA, 1958". But not only the common people, even the Ministers have suffered due to non-compliance to dos and don'ts by the Armed Force personnel who are here in the state of Manipur to aid and assist the civil authority.

So many intense agitations, conventions, sit-in-protest, so far held and organized, alongside with submission of many representations and memorandums to the competent authority have been done to repeal the AFSPA, 1958.

Irom Sharmila had also completed her 16 years fasting demanding the repeal of AFSPA. All these efforts proved futile bearing no consequence. However, AFSPA, 1958 was lifted from the seven assembly segments of Imphal Municipal area following the removing of 'disturbed area' tag from the said area.

Following people's demand, the Ministry of Home Affairs, GoI instituted theJeevan Reddy Commission to review the AFSPA, 1958. The committee recommended to either amend the provisions of the act to bring them in consonance of the government towards protection of human rights, or to replace the act by a more humane act.

But nonetheless, with the armed forces insisting for continuing AFSPA, 1958, nothing happened as the government had maintained stoic silence. On the other hand, instead of AFSPA, 1958 containing insurgency, more and more mushrooming and proliferating of armed insurgent groups had been witnessing in post AFSPA, 1958 Manipur and Northeast.

Manipur came under British colonialism following the defeat of Manipur in the Anglo-British War of 1891. During the long period of British rule in Manipur from 1891 to 1947, the administration in the hills of Manipur was done directly by the British.

The British administrators at the threshold of leaving formulated the Manipur Constitution Act, 1947 and the Manipur Hill Areas Regulation Act, 1947 with the objective of putting it to practice after their departure. Because of that legacy, when Manipur attained statehood, the State Legislative Assembly existed alongside with Hill Areas Committee.

As its outcome, the colonial practice of divide and rule policy continued with the implementation of respective dual system of administration for the hills and the plains.

For instance, Panchayati Raj in the valley, district council in the hills, Patta system in valley and house tax in hills for land revenue and settlement, allowing of people from any communities to settle in the valley areas while prohibiting non-tribes from settling in hill areas, etc.

In the light of such continuing colonial legacy of divide and rule, we need to realize to remain united as one against such adversary forces that attempt to divide us. Any force on earth will not able to divide the brethren communities in Manipur who belonged to the same racial stock having similar physical features, sharing the fraternal bond with a long tradition of inter-marriage.

In this age of globalised world with development reaching its zenith, northeast seems still in the grip of under-development. In fact, development is found lagging in all fronts as infrastructure is found wanting.

Many smaller communities are in a fear of becoming extinct or getting submerged by the larger community. As they remain unrepresented in the decision-making bodies, they don't have any means to raise their grievance.

If the existing system continues, these people belonging to smaller community will not be able to have their representation even after thousands of years. Addressing it requires commissioning a bicameral system having legislative council with representations from all the brethren native communities irrespective of the population size.

By doing so, there will be peaceful co-existence and future generations will benefit from it in the form of even development, mutual empathy which in turn would ultimately result to unity and oneness.

Concluded...


* H. Ibotombi Khuman wrote this article which was published at Imphal Times
This article was webcasted on June 12 2019.



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