Imposing economic blockade is not just a punishable offence but an act of crime
Samarjit Kambam *
Goods laden truck torched near Tadubi on November 21 2016 :: Pix - TSE
Economic blockade is a kind of collateral movement/method or process used in wars as a means to wring dry the ration, supplies, stocks and equipment of enemy soldiers and cripple the target state or nation to the brink of collapse using military might. Various measures were adopted, even during modern warfare by chocking or destroying roads, bridges, tunnels, docks, airports, rail line connectivity, communications systems etc.
It is, rather, a very cruel practice which violate human and civil rights and traverses to the trajectory quite contradictory to the sole purpose of human existence, universal brotherhood and puts humanity at the backburner. It is a violent practice and is considered unlawful throughout the world. Economic blockade has no takers and finds no place in a sane or civilised society. Practising this practice takes human to a lower level or brings him back, though not at a different space and time zone, to the preceding ways of life tantamount to the cave-borne early man.
The economic blockade imposed by the UNC (United Naga Council), the frontal body of NSCN (IM) has been going on unabated since Nov 1 resulting in untold hardships to the people residing in the valley areas.
Instead of waning, the blockade has intensified in tandem with strong agitations in Naga dominated hill areas. Now, the demand of the UNC has become multi-pronged with the extra demand of unconditional release of UNC's President and Information Secretary. On the other hand, the state government is adamant on its stand. The common people are in between the hammer and the anvil, living a nightmarish way of life, a life, to the people of other places of the world will be even a 'hard to imagine' one.
The topography of Manipur is such that the valley portion is completely landlocked surrounded by nine ranges of hills. With only two national highways i.e. NH 2 and NH 37, the weird topography of Manipur makes it quite vulnerable for the valley areas to get bottlenecked due to natural phenomenon such as hill slide and man-made ones such as blockades with the people residing in the valley area facing the crunch of hardships and untold misery whenever any such phenomenon occurs or takes place.
It has become kinda unique feature of the state that whenever any tussle be it political or social takes place between the state government and hill based organisations, economic blockade is employed as a means against the state government for fulfilling their demands. The current economic blockade enforced by the UNC is neither the first time nor does it look to be the last.
The paradox is that a greater chunk of the population settles in the valley even though it occupies a miniscule portion of geographical area of the state. With the state having no industry, no factory and no resources except agricultural, it is tantamount to an empty basket case thereby relying heavily on other states for fulfilling the needs of its people through the two highways which are its lifelines. The weird 'fish bowl' topography and socio-economic scenario of the state in itself act as catalysts for rampant exploitation of economic blockade in the hills and the more reason to resort to this unhealthy practice.
Now, the question that hovers thickly in the air is, "Is there no other means of fulfilling demands of hill based organisations other than imposing economic blockades?". The UNC should realise that big state actors, VIPs and the opulent ones hardly get affected by economic blockades. The common people are the ones who bear the brunt of hardships caused by it.
Now, we the people in the valley are living lives which is no life at all, more so like living dead gruelling all day for a few litres of petrol/diesel, buying essential commodities at unimaginable with the demonetisation imbroglio adding to the severity of the situation.
The UNC needs to understand that counter eco-blockades could have been imposed long time back in the valley areas but saner voices prevail here. Various valley-based Civil Society Organisations kept a watchful eye against outburst of such callous move.
But have you given a second thought, let alone soul searching about how much suffering you have given to the common people residing in the valley? Your action is equivalent to a mother beating up her children after having a fight with her husband but can't do anything towards him. The innocent children bears the brunt of their mother's wrath for no fault of theirs.
That's practically what you are doing to us. Don't get me wrong when I say you are cowards in the real sense, to the people with sense. In this prevailing scenario, you are akin to the coward mother who beat up her innocent children instead of dealing or sorting out the predicament with her husband.
So, please accept to justify that economic blockade is a very cowardly act, for coward acts are usually carried out when one doesn't have the dignity to speak man to man. As per Supreme Court, economic blockade is a punishable offence. Actually, it's more than that, its beyond civility, beyond humanity and its cruel. It's a wonder to acknowledge how the law left a void in this particular area.
As per opinion of the writer, economic blockade should not be dumped merely in the category of 'punishable offence'. It should be made tantamount to 'punishable crime'. Nevertheless, we have been tolerating even though the envelope of patience is wearing thinner with each passing day for we do not want unwanted things to go on ethnic lines, for we love our hill brethren. UNC has been taking advantage out of such a stand of ours.
My honest appeal to my UNC brothers and sisters is to please use your precious decisions independently, not under the whims of some elements who are dictating terms on you, robbing you of your right to think sensibly. Instead of building up a despicable image, UNC needs to be bold and being bold doesn't require ferocity and hostility.
Being bold means the ability to have compassion and patience for without them life's not worth living. And don't overestimate or underestimate our calmness. Remember, there's a calm before the storm. If you are not able to value a life, then you are not a human, you are born on the wrong planet. If you prefer the rough way, you can either go to caves or live the way you once used to.
Cut yourselves from the rest of the world and kill every non Nagas who enter your territory with your spears and shout "Might is Right". C'mon, UNC ! This is the 21st century. Don't climb down to the level of a degenerate. Come out from the UNCivilised threshold.
A few decades from now, the world will be becoming a global village and it will be a handful of corporates with their corporate armies who may be ruling the world. The very near future will usher humankind to an era where car accidents take place up in the air. Roads will become non-existent by then. By that time things will not be based on You, Me, Us, Them….. It will be a whole lotta different. Open your eyes. Stop territorial pissing. Only wild animals do it.
Amidst, the proposal from Manipur Baptists Convention and church leaders of Mao to put an end on the ongoing economic blockade imposed by UNC on humanitarian ground are some faint but sane voices which are echoing in the hills reflecting that goodness lies in every man, that the goodness of the religion they practice is being practised in the real world which in fact is quite a bright development.
However, all those attacks, all those arsons, lootings, pillagings, putting trucks on fire, beating up and physically injuring the innocent drivers and their handymen in the name of economic blockade are nothing but acts of crime. Things might real nasty if it goes on the way it is and the damage of the repercussion could turn out to be colossal.
UNC needs to think about that. Its high time the UNC resort to other form of agitation which doesn't affect the common people. Lets always remember – United we stand, Divided we fall.
* Samarjit Kambam wrote this article for The Sangai Express
This article was posted on December 05, 2016.
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