TODAY -

Old faultlines, new crisis

A Bimol Akoijam *



The violence that erupted in Manipur on December 18 is unfortunate. However, the events were not unexpected. For a long time, there has been simmering anger against the "economic blockades" on the national highways imposed by tribal bodies such as the United Naga Council (UNC). The present blockade enforced by the UNC, which has gone on for more than 50 days, has caused immense hardship.

Essential items are in short supply, petrol has been selling at Rs 200-300 per litre and cooking gas at Rs 2,000-3,000 per cylinder in the state. The hardship has been compounded by the fallout of demonetisation.

Such blockades on national highways have become a recurrent phenomenon in the last decade. This time, the Union ministry of home affairs has declared the blockade illegal. But nothing concrete has come out of that ban. Various courts, including the Supreme Court, have also pronounced the highway blockade illegal.

Following a ruling by the Manipur High Court, the Manipur government has arrested the president and another office bearer of the UNC. But various tribal bodies (tribals constitute roughly 35 per cent of the state's population), including the UNC, have demanded the unconditional release of both.

On the other hand, Christian bodies —most tribals in the state are Christians and although there are Christians amongst the non-tribal population, they mostly follow different forms of Hinduism, Islam and an indigenous faith called Sanamahism —have appealed to the UNC to withdraw the blockades.

The violence on December 18 was, however, not merely about the ongoing blockade. It was also a result of the transforming character of the "Naga nationalist" movement that has come to threaten Manipur's existence. A large number of cadres and top leadership of the NSCN (I-M), including its leader T. Muivah, come from Manipur.

As the mantle of leading the "Naga nationalist" movement increasingly rests with the group, the theme, "we are discriminated" has gained currency over the traditional theme, "we are not Indians", in the Naga political discourse. As the decades-old India-Naga rift gradually transforms into a Naga-Manipuri conflict, the government of India finds itself as the mediator of a new conflict, rather than being a party to one of the oldest armed conflicts in South Asia.

The UNC subscribes to an expression of "Naga nationalism" that endangers Manipur. It calls for a "separate administration" of the areas which it terms as "Naga areas" in the state as an "interim arrangement". This aspiration puts the group into conflict with those who believe in the integrity of Manipur's polity and society.

The conflict has grown during the past two decades, which incidentally also coincides with the time period of the talks between the NSCN (I-M) and the Indian government. Many in Manipur, including the state government, see the UNC as a front organisation of the NSCN (I-M).

The UNC challenges the idea of Manipur as a historically evolved geo-political entity. Terming Manipur as "artificially" created by the colonial rulers, it seeks to split the state's polity along communal lines (Nagas, Kukis, Meiteis). Central to this language of "ethnicisation" is a widely shared and theologically derived idea of "land", and a corresponding notion of identity as a primordial entity.

Thus, in line with the slogan "Nagaland for Christ", a former vice-chairman of the Naga Hoho, G. Gaingam writes, "God created Meitei and Naga… God gave a plain area of land… to the Meitei… and… hill areas… to the Nagas..." (The Sangai Express, December 19).

However, the idea of "Naga" as a "nation" is a product of colonial categories and nationalist mobilisation. That some tribal communities continue to resist attempts to incorporate them under the Naga fold (such as the Aimols in Manipur) alludes to this nature of Naga identity and politics.

Armed with a cocktail of theological and modernist ideas, the UNC pursues its political mobilisation by deploying expressions like "Naga areas", "Naga-dominated areas" and "contiguous Naga areas". Insofar as it sees the creation of the new districts as an act that splits "Naga areas", the present blockade is a part of that mobilisation.

Expressions like "Naga-dominated" and "contiguous areas" have a historical precedent in the Muslim League's campaign for Pakistan. The League had deployed expressions like "Muslim area", "Muslim-dominated area" and "contiguous Muslim areas". History seems to be repeating itself in Manipur. During the 1990s, the state witnessed bloodshed amongst communities as propaganda and violence sought to sharply demarcate the tribals in terms of two conglomerates — the "Nagas" and the "Kukis".

Treating fellow citizens as migrants, issuing "quit notices" and exterminating a tribe from an area claimed by another tribe have left indelible scars on the psyche of the people.

Such exclusivist politics have intensified since the turn of the century. Even though the Centre maintains that its "ceasefire" with the NSCN (I-M) is applicable only in Nagaland, it is common knowledge that the group operates with impunity in Manipur.

The authority of the state government has eroded in many areas, which are under the sway of the group. There is a seething resentment amongst the people against the attempts of the UNC and NSCN (I-M) to disintegrate Manipur along communal lines.

A perception that these groups have recently got the tacit support of the government of India, and the hardship caused by the recurrent blockades, have compounded that resentment. The violence at Khurai in Imphal in the third week of December was the explosion of years of pent-up anger.

(Courtesy – The Indian Express)


* Old faultlines, new crisis wrote this article which was published at The Sangai Express
The author teaches at Jawaharlal Nehru University
This article was posted on December 30, 2016.


* Comments posted by users in this discussion thread and other parts of this site are opinions of the individuals posting them (whose user ID is displayed alongside) and not the views of e-pao.net. We strongly recommend that users exercise responsibility, sensitivity and caution over language while writing your opinions which will be seen and read by other users. Please read a complete Guideline on using comments on this website.




LATEST IN E-PAO.NET
  • Death Anniv- Bhagyachandra #2 :: Gallery
  • National Repentance Day :: Gallery
  • Chasing Tidal Waves by Lo! Peninsula
  • Volleyball tournament at Chingai, Ukhrul
  • Condemns murder of Shantanu Bhowmik
  • Condemns scribe's murder in Tripura
  • Deep grief over another assassination
  • Suspicious death of missing youth in Noida
  • Protest outside UP Bhawan in Delhi
  • Bigger threat from Bangla immigrants
  • Of war, wine and women
  • A trip to Moreh #1 :: Gallery
  • Death Anniv- Bhagyachandra #1 :: Gallery
  • Breach of Privilege & Contempt of the House
  • Career option in History
  • Cry of a Dying River - 1 :: Poem
  • Inner Line Permit (ILP) Demand : Timeline
  • Condemn provocation against Pangal
  • Meetei Demand Of Scheduled Tribe @ Delhi
  • Resolutions adopted by NPF Central HQs
  • TSA-GHQ calls off agitation
  • Diverting filled cylinders from hills
  • Manipur Sangai Festival 2016 #6 : Ooba
  • History of Printing in Manipur
  • Hydro Electric Power: A must for Manipur #1
  • Why Total Knee Replacement is necessary
  • Self-styled godmen and mental darkness
  • The Dawn of Knowledge :: Poem
  • Consideration for Govt on UTLA camp attack
  • Bloody Phanek premiere in South Korea
  • Memo to Satywati College against Hindi
  • NE militant in Myanmar may face problem
  • Putting the limelight on O Ibobi
  • Bamboo - our green treasure
  • Jadonang: Indomitable faith of martyrdom
  • 12th Manipur State League #3:: Gallery
  • Cyberbullying
  • British rule in India: blessing or curse?
  • Candle light for Pravish Chanam at Delhi
  • The Killing Fields :: News Timeline
  • Concern over Cambodia media crackdown
  • Present crisis a blessing for NPF: MLA
  • Medical Camp at Tokpaching, Chandel
  • High promises, high expectations : BJP Govt
  • Traffic regulation still yet be improved
  • Traditional Ritual @Khurkhul #4 :: Gallery
  • Athokpam Tomchou :: Sahityabhusan
  • Kanglasha & Kangla Fort :: 360 ° View
  • Mapithel Dam: Tumukhong village's sorrow
  • Earthen Pots of Thongjao :: Poem
  • Protest Rally at Uchiwa on Pravish's death
  • Three former insurgents killed in Manipur
  • Frisking exercise intensifies along borders
  • Manipur await to deport Rohingya prisoner
  • Culturals @ Pineapple Fest #2 :: Gallery
  • Boisang, Yaronsho, Thangmeiso :: eMing
  • MSL: NISA Vs FC Zalen :: Gallery
  • Fund the Athlete: Support Sumanta Naorem
  • Carbon Sequestration Vs Agroforestry tree
  • PHYNYX changes name & going global
  • NEFIS reaches HM on Pravish death
  • SSP admits lapses; suspends 2 more cops
  • Expecting the expectation
  • Priyogopal : Senior Film Artist :: eRang
  • Ningtham Charei fashion catwalk :: Gallery
  • My Japanlan memoir after 4 score yrs- D
  • Candle light: Justice for Pravish Chanam
  • Science as a Christian vocation
  • Yesterday Today and Tomorrow :: Poem
  • Early Childhood Education Impact Study
  • Condemn the attitude of Noida Police
  • Protest at Noida SSP's office
  • A Child Cannot Decide Its Parent
  • Notification from COHSEM for Class XI
  • Threat to ban movement of non-local
  • Re-defining Mr. Clean perspectives
  • Hathei Phanit @Sirarakhong :: Gallery
  • Education in Manipur- reform & vision
  • Career option in Political Science
  • A Robe of Love :: Poem
  • Memo to CM regarding dead in Noida
  • Meghalaya edition of NH7 Weekender
  • Away from Imphal centric: Govt-Hills Bhai!
  • Panchayat election matters...
  • Reception for CM at CCPur :: Gallery
  • 239th Heikru Hidongba #2 :: Gallery
  • Buddha Said: The More The Govt... #2
  • R & R anomaly in Mapithel dam
  • Letting go :: Poem
  • Bedtime beauty hacks to look young
  • Warepnaba Meefam Saruk Yabiyu
  • Indo-Naga Talks 2017 :: News Timeline
  • Civil Sectt crawling at snail pace
  • Perplexity trends
  • Heitha Leithaba @Kekrupat #2:: Gallery
  • Ningtham Charei :: Fashion Show
  • ISKCON Temple, Imphal #2 :: 360 ° View
  • Remote Villages conditions remain same
  • General Meeting & Social Gathering of EMA
  • Leadership management
  • Karo Sambhav School Program at Tripura
  • Blood Donation Camp at RIMS
  • Another spell of cooking gas shortage
  • Parking paralysis
  • Manipur Univ of Culture #3 :: Gallery
  • Sub Junior Boys Basketball #2 :: Gallery
  • Binalakshmi Nepram: NE Excellence Award
  • Manipuri in Proto-Sino-Tibetan Family
  • Lamka: Urban character with rural admin
  • MUTA Colloquium : 3 decades of teaching
  • Vigil up in Manipur over influx
  • NPF removes Manipur state unit president
  • IIHEd Seminar : The Rohingya Conundrum
  • Inter Village Volley Ball at Chandel
  • Trafficking story from CCpur
  • Local body election matters
  • Pottery Crafts of Manipur #1 :: Gallery
  • Techniche, IIT Guwahati :: Gallery
  • Anger begets hope & constructive action
  • World's oldest Parliamentarian
  • Convocation of Assam Don Bosco Univ.
  • Times I Live In :: Poem
  • Sadar Hills District Demand: News Timeline
  • Date with Sep 11 : Setting new benchmarks
  • Angaoba Film Scenes #2 :: eRang
  • Eyek Tamba :: Learn Manipuri script
  • My Japanlan memoir after 4 score years- C
  • Flood & Ithai Barrage: A brief reflection
  • Indigenous people must be consulted...
  • When a Star Finally Dies :: Poem
  • Job openings at The Rice Company
  • Lesson need to learn from Gouri Lankesh
  • Sumi Hoho calls on Nagaland CM
  • #NeverStop Guwahati: fitness enthusiasts
  • Protests against Myanmar govt
  • Culturals @ Pineapple Fest #1 :: Gallery
  • 12th Manipur State League #1:: Gallery
  • Tete a tete with the Education Minister
  • Freak and frank job interview
  • Buddha Said: The More The Govt... #1
  • Dichtung und Wahrheit :: Poem
  • Protest: Myanmar for persecuting Rohingya
  • Subroto Football under 14 yrs at Delhi
  • Performance anxiety: and its election again
  • Heitha Leithaba @Kekrupat #1:: Gallery
  • Heikru Hidongba Definition: Bijoy Govinda
  • Shri Shri Govindaji Temple #2 :: 360 ° View
  • Era gone with Rishang Keishing demise
  • International Literacy Day, 2017
  • De-notify Disturbed Area tag & repeal AFSPA
  • Waiting for a Good Morrow:: Poem
  • Annual Fresher's Meet, MSAD
  • Clogged waterways: Plastics, plastics...
  • Life is to be lived, not to merely survive
  • State level Teacher's Day :: Gallery
  • MU Inter-College Basketball :: Gallery
  • Half Step Rock signs up PHYNYX, now 'LEN'
  • RIST Talk 31 : metal cholate hydrogels
  • Day 3 at Techniche IIT Guwahati
  • Response to "need male empowerment"
  • Condemns murder of Gauri Lankesh
  • Condemns murder of Bengaluru journalist
  • NPF on impersonation of its President
  • Pre-recruitment Training for Chandel Youth
  • Where are the Ojas in teachers ?
  • Another stunt, but things remain the same
  • Bhoot Ki Thoujal :: Funga Wari
  • 52nd Hunger Marchers' Day #3 :: Gallery
  • Global development agenda & local realities
  • Sita :: Poem
  • Career in Audio/Sound Engineering
  • Education for conflict
  • Bikram's Blog :: 10 Year on Web
  • 7th Pay & the fiscal reality of the State
  • Of Patriot and patriotism
  • 2nd Conclave of NEDA
  • Kang Tournament #2 :: Gallery
  • NE Fashion Week #2 :: Gallery
  • Beauvoir's Second Sex & Maam's teaching
  • Face to Face with Rishang Keishing
  • ...real fact nobody wants to tell naked truth
  • to whom it may concern :: Poem
  • Importance of yoga
  • 'Court Arrest Prog' on Teachers' Day
  • Recruitment drive at Globizs, Imphal
  • JCILPS back after a brief lull
  • Culture of respect
  • 239th Heikru Hidongba #1 :: Gallery
  • Oinam Doren wins award in Italy (Lessinia)
  • For Chester : Tribute Concert :: Gallery
  • Make Manipur 'Gateway' to ASEAN
  • For all plasti-zens
  • Sailing in the Troubled Waters :: Poem
  • CM's advisor interacts with students
  • Discussion: Scenario of Indian Politics
  • Catching up with former CM, former CSs
  • Id-ul-Zuha @ Hatta, Minuthong :: Gallery
  • Tribute to Rishang Keishing #3 :: Gallery
  • Heikru Hidongba
  • Result: 3rd Imphal National Photo contest
  • Japanlan memoir after four score years- B
  • NE needs moral guiding force like Rishang
  • STDCM na sougatli
  • Battling the cancer of corruption
  • First day of IIT Techniche 2017
  • Haipou Jadonang day :: Gallery
  • Sub-Junior Football for NE :: Gallery
  • Haipou Jadonang - The Martyr #2
  • NHPC's Loktak Project: Curse for Manipur
  • Of War and Peace :: Poem
  • Techniche 2017 kick starts in IIT Guwahati
  • Software Engineer @ Cobigent Tech
  • LPG cylinders sold like potatoes
  • Consistency containing nature vagaries
  • Xth Pineapple Fest @CCpur :: Gallery
  • Translation of "Puya" in English
  • L Devendro & Diana Chanu :: Reception
  • L Devendro : O Bembem :: Arjuna Awards
  • Ige KNliye kabita Ama :: Seireng
  • For Chester : Graffiti Work :: Gallery
  • Karong Children home wash away:: Gallery
  • State bids adieu to Rishang :: Gallery
  • Rishang Keishing : A profile
  • Tribute to Rishang Keishing #2 :: Gallery
  • Tamu, Myanmar- Moreh border #2 :: Gallery
  • Old Manipuri Movie #1 :: eRang Classic
  • Nungbi Khullen, Ukhrul #2 :: Gallery
  • Singcha Wuya Won (flower) #3:: Gallery
  • Landscape of Ukhrul District #2:: Gallery
  • Landscape of Manipur #7: Wallpaper
  • Featured Photo for 2017 #3 :: Gallery
  • SPONSORED ADS