Epicentre in Nagaland and Lava in Manipur

JC Sanasam *

Epicentre in Nagaland and Lava in Manipur

Our folk story goes: the Tangkhuls were the eldest brother, the Kukis the second and the Meiteis or Meeteis the youngest. Now has it gone reverse, have the Meiteis taken over the role of the big brother to overlook the naughty quirks of the younger brothers?

Those were the days in early sixties when youngsters of Manipur, studying outside, not having much money to travel by air or because they were compelled to pass through Naga Hills to reach their destinations with which Imphal did not have air-connections then, had to sit, their asses hot, on their seats in the bus hours together, minimum of 10 to 12 hours, to reach Dimapur, tagged with the name Manipur Station, (railways-wise those days).

Imphal had only the lone Indian Airlines flight that connected with Silchar, Agartala en-route to Dum Dum Airport in Calcutta, controlled by the Bengalis; another feature of Calcuttans' Bengali dominance; considered by many as Bengali policy.

The tedious surface journey through this 39 NH was worsened by the compulsion of a security-convoy of half a kilometer long that waited for the MST (Manipur State Transport) buses, trucks, oil tankers, private vehicles, and what not, at Kangpokpi from Imphal end and at a place called Chumukedima from Dimapur's end. On top of that the ever rugged-ragged road surface, the frequent jerks and jolts and the rickety body-structure of the buses made the ride like undergoing break dance or the cowboy spree of frolics with untamed horses or bulls.

The convoy and the numerous vehicles trudged along altogether in one single file stretched to a length more than one kilometer. Distant whistles from among the convoy vehicles were regular and frequent; each causing a stop or a break of one hour or so. When enquired about such stops the answer came impromptu: one of the jawans in the convoy wanted to pee: the rumour ran through the passengers.

However none of the vehicles was allowed to stop on its own and so no passenger could ever think of releasing his bladder or of moving his bowel. There was no station for toilet service either (perhaps not till today). A cruel joke! A pity! It is now so sad that conditions, instead of improving, seem to have deteriorated so bad today after a span of 40 to 50 years. What was more miserable was the risk and danger of any shoot out or looting or plundering in the buses from the stray gun totting Naga militants.

The Manipuri youngsters kept quiet, breathed quiet, survived quiet like we are all doing now in the face of the persistent blockade that has lasted nearly four months now, a world record maybe. Manipuris have learnt how to be silent spectators, and are probably the most tolerating group. Perhaps it is from history that we have had picked up this high threshold of endurance. We had had endured the worst of times during the repeated Burmese invasions. Perhaps it is already in the gene.

During such trips those youngsters drowsily dozed in their buses and, rather, praised dreamily the Naga valiance as news of their attacks on Indian Army posts and assaulting ambushes on the military movements were the food of the day. Those youngsters expected a huge volcano was going to erupt in Naga Hills and the history of Naga Hills would alter.

However an episode of such a huge scale did not happen; incidents of some spurts might have occurred here and there though. Little did they realise till then that lava had started to pour out trickling silently spreading out in all directions. Now they realize the major bulk has landed in their own motherland Manipur.

They were partly right: some changes in the political history of the region definitely took place. Naga Hills, a hill district of Assam became the state of Nagaland whereas Manipur still remained a Union Territory (the term sounds like a territory newly annexed). No question, they were happy for the Naga brothers and sisters.

Time! Vehicles in the scale of millions must have had passed through the NH39. Much of water must have had run downstream the Imphal River to the Ningthi Turel to reach the Irrawaddy and the Bay of Bengal.

What about the overloaded lava that has surged in and accumulated in to pollute the air of the highland areas and foothills of Manipur? Are not we feeling suffocated with the acrid unhealthy gas that has emanated from the accumulating lava?

Perhaps those sleepy youngsters, who traveled through this route off repeatedly, wanted to speak up those days too; but they are still keeping quiet. Yes, to ignore away things is also a good philosophy.

What have the past economic blockades and total bandhs brought to? Nothing.

A good philosophy?

Our folk story goes: the Tangkhuls were the eldest brother, the Kukis the second and the Meiteis or Meeteis the youngest. Now has it gone reverse, have the Meiteis taken over the role of the big brother to overlook the naughty quirks of the younger brothers?

Are we going to do little much as before even when the gust of this Supra State Body has swapped on our face?

Coming to these questions a lot of further questions do come up:

  • Is it not yet time for the Chief Ministers of Manipur, Assam and Arunachal Pradesh to form a committee and have regular meetings to monitor?
  • Would not the Governors of these states do the same in consultation with the incumbent of Nagaland?
  • Would our leaders continue to keep saying: we have not received the official document, we are trying to contact: instead of finding out the facts fast and declaring the results of what they have done to lull the angry voice of the people? Would the opposition leaders spend time languidly just pestering the synapses of the ruling party's brain instead of taking up the matter within their responsibilities as well?
  • Would our civil societies remain simply hollering here instead of writing strong letters straight to the President of India, Prime Minister, Home Minister, President of the Ruling Party and all concerned persons and departments? Would not they personally drop in the offices of Delhi and scoop out the facts?
  • How long will the state government remain a silent spectator to the ongoing talks between the Central Government agencies and the NSCN-IM without knowing anything of what is going on? How secret is it?
  • What is the policy of the Centre towards these concerned states in relation to the Nagas' voice for an 'alternative arrangement'? Are they playing slandering games lashing out a statement to one party and comforting the other with a reverse statement and denial to test and see reactions, to stall time and wait for an opportunity to shelf the issue for good?
  • Did the revolutionary groups of Manipur take up arms pledging: if the centre does not care for Manipur we are here to take care of it; it is not the Nagas alone, we also know how to take up arms to protect our own motherland? If so, why are they so silent?
The list will never end.

* JC Sanasam wrote this article for Hueiyen Lanpao (English Edition)
This article was posted on November 29, 2011.

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