TODAY -

Failure to communicate

Jyaneswar Laishram *

ILP : Public meeting at Churachandpur public ground and Sit-in Protest across Churachandpur :: September 4 2015.
ILP : Sit-in Protest across Churachandpur on September 4 2015 :: Pix - Deepak Oinam



"What we have got here is failure to communicate. Some men you just can't reach. So you get what we had here last week."— relate this rhetoric movie dialogue from Cool Hand Luke (1967) to the current mess we are in. What I guess is that mess is here to stay in Manipur, perhaps longer or forever. After months of strife and struggle that hurtled across the valley to set CM Shri Okram Ibobi Singh in motion to pass the three bills in the State Legislative Assembly, an unprecedented outburst in the hills to kill the bills has blocked the overall headway midway or somewhere. This is how issues keep multiply in Manipur, one after another, without concrete resolutions in most cases.

How did the objections against the bills emerge from an unexpected hilly quarter is a long story of many plots and sub-plots, with no central theme to it. But at the core of the story is a big failure of communication or misunderstanding. Big failure of communication is what it lurked in every aspect of the Inner Line Permit System (ILPS) agitation. Event right from the very onset of the stir, in the valley, things seemed to have lost direction. In turn, the rightful protest took a wrong turn leading to a series of blindly orchestrated remonstrations, resulting in the unfortunate death of 16-year-old schoolboy Sapam Robinhood in police firing (of rubber ammunitions, to make it precise).

Had it been a kind surged under the command of somebody or anybody from the Joint Committee on Inner Line Permit Systems (JCILPS), the combo of civil organizations and school students unions spearheading the public uprising, things could have been therein settled down on a right track. For that's what I intended to ask 'Was there any key leader commanding the agitation?' some good old politically educated friends of mine so determinedly argued to say that the public took the matter at heart, neither a chief nor a leader was required to them.

First up is a leader! This is my idea. Yes, a leader was the need of the hour when it came to dealing in sensitive issues like the introduction of ILPS, lest he or she could responsible to educate the ignorant young agitators about 'the underlying cause' and hold control of them before they carried out scattershot uprising with their personal agendas, caring little or nothing about any possible negative consequence either at local or broader level. An angry mob is entitled to be hostile, but the presence of a leader in this context always helps a lot in subsiding hostility in time before things go wrong.

To simply define, a leader is the one who learns the art of hurling stones and could able to hit even the bull's eye of a moving target, so accurately. If somebody characterized with such attribute would lead the ILPS agitation right from the first place, today everyone must celebrate jubilance. It was a bit erroneous to sign up a horde of angry young agitators who have never been trained with the art of stone throwing, but hysterically threw stones at CM Shri Ibobi Singh who could bend like Neo in Matrix. At the end, all the stray stones that missed the target hit those standing nearby and commotion erupted from some unprecedented corners, such as hills and beyond where angry people of different profiles and looks opposed the act, knowingly or unknowingly.

It has been plenty going on now, both in the valley and hills, bringing in enough bandhs, sit-in protests, road blocks, hunger strikes, even protests from kids as young as those in elementary schools. As a result, we all are now in a state of total mess as big misunderstanding between the valley people and hill tribes has ruined all efforts. Kukis in Churachandpur might have their old or new reasons of pointing an angry finger at valley people in connection to the passing of the three bills or may be some others, but branding Meities as a sort of a greedy lot attempting to snatch their land in view of the Protection of Manipur People Bill 2015, which circumscribes 1951 as cut-off year to single out the so-called outsiders, is an unsubstantiated charge erupted from misunderstanding.

Of the series of blames with which Kukis dug claws into Meiteis, the spat over rubber bullets vs real bullets is quite contentious as it alarmingly sounded so communal; so, both sides would need to sit down cordially over a cup of changaang (black tea) to clear the dubious elements revolving around the ill-fated shootout episode. Why regional media remained so silent to this? They (both prints and electronic, not social) could readily do justice to the controversial episode by bringing every bit of facts to the public, clearing all clouds of confusion hanging overhead across Churachandpur.

Now in a bit of a misstep or a wrong presumption, all exertions that waged the movement to simply regulate the influx of non-Manipuri people into the state—to control the demographic imbalance—have now taken into an ugly turn. In this respect, tamo Pradip Phanjoubam, in one of his judgments of the ongoing stir, put in that hills never tried to understand that valley is now in need of room to be itself, citing the fact that Meities in the four valley districts comprise more than 60 percent of the state's total population, who however are dwelled only in 10 percent of the geographical areas.

Moreover, it will be wise for leaders from all tribal groups and those torchbearers of the agitation in the valley to come down on a negotiation lane leading to a concrete resolution before the matter gets spilling into a bigger conflict. And it's time for youngsters both in the valley and hills, particularly those unusually active on facebook with real or pseudo names, must shut their smart-phones or mouths for a while for the reason that most of them seemed losing their sense and word of mutual communication. Shrieking for the sake of shrieking—most of the time they have little or no regard for other community.

As I sit down with my morning changaang, I'm now a wee bit fed up of all these news of mistrusts, agonies, communal hatred, demarcation, outsiders and blah-blah blaring around us. How much problem or discomfort would it create when we co-exist? For this, in my bare opinion, we all must come out of our respective traditional closets first. And if all of us, leaders in the forefront, stood up and said we are here to resolve the problems peacefully without disturbing the existing tranquility of the respective communities, we hopefully will no longer be into this a'kicking mess anymore!

But this is the beginning.


* Jyaneswar Laishram wrote this article for e-pao.net
This article was published at The Sangai Express and can be contacted at ozzyjane(aT)gmail(doT)com
This article was posted on September 22, 2015.


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