Black sheep in the movement for ILPS : Part - II

Samarjit Kambam *

ILP :  Students protesting in pursuit of demand for restricting non-locals :: 27 July 2017
ILP : Students protesting in pursuit of demand for restricting non-locals in July 2017 :: Pix - Shankar Khangembam

I have known "Tellipati" aka "Tellibasti" adjacent to Soibam Leikai, Khurai since I was a kid. During that time the populace of non-locals was quite small. Now the number of non locals has increased exponentially and compared to the size of that place, the ratio of population is so high that you will feel as if you are breathing non-locals when you enter the vicinity of that area.

The district called "Bishnupur" is not a local name. Now we have Bangladeshi Colony (informally known) in Serou comprising mostly of illegal immigrants from Bangladesh apart from various other groups of non-locals. Similarly, there are umpteen places in Manipur with non local names and such names are increasing gradually. Another one that comes as a shocker to me is "Purana Rajbari" wherein the Nongmeibung region is known as. What is even more shocking is that the people seem quite satisfied in embracing the terminology.

Thangal Bazar and Paona Bazar in the heart of Imphal city are swarming with non-locals and have become their turf with the economy of the state in their hands. Go after 9 p.m. at Dharamsala area and you won't see a single local. Instead you might get thrashed by the non- locals for trespassing their territory.

Now, 'territorial pissing' has already started by the non-locals. There are non-local names galore such as Bhora Gali, Alu Gali, Kalibari Road etc. in Thangal Bazar. Our historic Samumakhong has been christened as Hathi Chowk by them and Gandhi Avenue is known as Gandhi Chowk.

In almost every districts of Manipur, there are umpteen non-locals as well as non-local names of places, roads, streets etc. Mantripukhri area is swarmed with non-locals. The economy of Moreh town is totally under the control of Madrasis.

The district of Jiribam is infamously known for the largest number of non locals compared to its size. There was even an uproar regarding a non-local MLA in Jiribam at the Assembly Election of 2016. Now the district of Jiribam is in an identity potpourri with Borobekra and Babukhal as its Sub-divisions.

In Jiribam, the indigenous people have become minority. There are hordes of villages in Jiribam with names such as Lalpani, Narandhor, Abompunjee, Ahamadabad, Baiboni, Bhowmikpara, Champanagar, Chotobekra, Boroikhal, Durgapur, Jatrapur, Kashimpur, Madhupur, Basa, Narayanpur, Rasidpur, Sabughat, Sonapur, Aglapur, Mahadevpur,etc etc. Sounds as if Jiribam is not a part of Manipur.

If the whole non-local names of villages, roads, streets, grounds etc in Jiribam are mentioned, it may fill up this whole page. Shocking isn't it? I have left out innumerable names of temples or places of worship in non-local names as I prefer not to bring in religion in this piece.

While we the indigenous groups of Manipur comprising of both valley and hill areas are playing hate games among ourselves and engaging in tussles which arose as a result of vested interest by some elements for their own gains by poisoning the minds of innocent indigenous groups of Manipur, the number of non locals is increasing at a harrowing pace with each passing day.

If this trend continues unabated, then in the very near future we are sure to get engulfed in the sea of non-locals and we the indigenous groups and particularly the Meiteis who have no constitutional safeguard for protection of indigenous identity will end up like the extinct duck like bird called "Dodo".

Recently, in the media, we have acknowledged the unpalatable news of two non locals, a mother and her daughter trying to strangulate a local lady in Imphal and looting of Rs. 5 lacs from a pharmacy of Salai Holding Groups by non-locals. My heart bleeds to hear the news. Since decades back we have become economic slaves of non-locals.

Now, the phase of becoming their physical slaves has also started. With their numbers increasing at a dreadful rate it may not be wrong to mention that the 'strangulation' and 'looting' incidents are just like tips of the ice-bergs for more such unwanted and untoward incidents by non-locals.

What a pitiable status quo we are in, being victims of non-locals in our own homeland. Reminds me of Tripura every now and then wherein the indigenous Tripuris are totally sidelined by the influx of Bengalis and are on the verge of becoming an extinct group of indigenous group.

Soon we will become familiar with names such as Thokchom Nandan Kumar Das, Kangabam Virender Gupta, Salam Rajesh Prasad, Konjengbam Amar Bhatt, Ngangbam Nandkishore Thakur, Wahengbam Babu Kunwar Singh, Nongthongbam Abhijit Mishra, Pebam Chandu Verma etc etc. Ironic isn't it? But I am not making this up. Developments have already taken place. And the reason for this?

Over and above the 'pull factor', there are so many black sheep in our state in the movement for ILPS. The recent issue where bureaucrats of Lamphel DC office changed the identity in Aadhaar of a non-local who married a local woman by giving the surname "Laishram" as well as another non local who married two local women and inserting our Meitei surname in his identity credentials bear testimony to that.

I really laud the whole-hearted efforts of JCILPS. But black sheep are everywhere in our state, even in police stations. Members of JCILPS frequently round up non-locals seeping inside our state and hand them over to respective police stations.

However, they are detained only for name-sake and are released within a short duration after receiving a few bucks contributed by the non-locals and then its back to square one again with the sincere efforts of members of JCILPS going down the drain.

Better shut down the Anti-Corruption Cell set up by the government. It doesn't serve any purpose when the very process of corruption starts from the law-enforcement agencies of the government.

Many parts of Imphal city are infested with non locals as tenants. The irony is that many families in Imphal are keeping flocks of non-local migrant workers. A single landlord rents upto forty to fifty migrant workers in a house with about ten of them packed in a room. The same scenario applies to other districts of Manipur also.

The unpalatable ground reality is that there are lots of hypocrites among us. They take part in the movement of the sensitive people's issue of implementation of ILPS but in the mean time giving shelter to outsiders in their own homes. Like an alcoholic shouting 'No to Liquors', we have many amongst us who are secretly harbouring the non-locals. They are the "black sheep" in the people's movement for ILPS.

The ironical fact is that the well-to-do ones just for their personal gains have been clandestinely supporting the non-locals since decades back. Their selfish acts have made the state of Manipur a hunting ground for the outsiders with blackwater as byproduct and in connivance with them has sliced mother Manipur part by part leaving her to bleed.

Even though we can't forsee the future, the future awaiting us can be ascertained as quite gloomy. The prevailing status quo of influx of non-locals is paving the way for a very uncertain future for the indigenous people of Manipur. This bloodless population warfare against indigenous people of Manipur is gradually progressing like a cancer.

In fact, the marginalisation of the indigenous populace has already started in our state. We will be sidelined or are sure to become refugees in our own state, or we may become an extinct group of people if the present trend of incursion of outsiders continues.

And please bear in mind that it is not only impending but is already happening. Course, in Manipur, our birthplace, each one of us has at least a home dwelling. But that doesn't imply that our children will be getting one if the colossal wave of unregulated influx of outsiders goes on the way it is. Our future generations may not even have a place to stand.

Let us be very aware that every tick of the clock is pushing us towards history. Time is running out on our side. A bleak future is awaiting us, so bleak and cataclysmic that we may be living only as words in the pages of history books and the non-local students will read out aloud, "Once upon a time there were Meiteis in Manipurů..".

The condition will worsen when rail connectivity reaches Imphal. So it is high time that we go for the ILPS till the goal is achieved. The Siroy Lily and Sangai, one of the rarest flora and fauna found only in Manipur are endangered species and are on the verge of extinction if proper conservation steps are not taken.

The same thing applies to the various ethnic groups co-existing in Manipur and more particularly the Meiteis if ILPS is not implemented at the earliest. Am not being partial but when we look at the way things are turning up, I prefer to side with my own indigenous brothers because we are threatened not only economically, but in our very existence. If this trend drifts on, we may be deprived even of our living space. The only solution is quick re-implementation of ILPS, at least in the valley areas if not in the hills.

We the indigenous people of Manipur, albeit late, must gear up our asses and strive forward so that our future generations are assured of a secure foothold for liberal existence in their own birthplace. The movement for ILPS is our awakening force, our only tool to save ourselves from becoming history.

As the hills are protected under the Sixth Schedule, my appeal to the JCILPS and other civil society organisations is to give more emphasis in the valley. This way, the bone of contention between the hill and valley people can be avoided. Sapam Robinhood, the son of the soil, the torchbearer in the people's movement for ILPS laid down his life during the movement for us.

The braveheart soul has given us the strength to pursue with our movement more vigorously. We, the indigenous people of Manipur must rekindle our hopes and go for the battle till it is won. There should be no turning back, no retreat otherwise we will never attain our goal.

In fact, our movement for re-implementation of ILPS is almost too late. But there's still time and hope and at this critical juncture keeping our hopes alive is of paramount importance and as we march forward let's not forget that our collective voice is "United we Stand, Divided we Fall".

* Samarjit Kambam wrote this article for The Sangai Express
This article was posted on April 15, 2018.

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