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
  • Keibul Lamjao- Drama Fest #1: Gallery
  • Anti-economic blockade protest: Gallery
  • Sadar Hills Demand 2011-2017 : Timeline
  • Becoming a rights defender
  • Grave situation for people of Manipur
  • Kaladan: A sea gate for India's NE!
  • What meaning is there to life from Buddha
  • 45th Manipur Statehood Day
  • Kakching Lamkhai :: 360 View Panorama
  • Leiteng Changdamnaba: Gallery
  • Letter to PM Modi on UNC Blockade
  • Chakaan Gaan-Ngai, Zeliangrong fest #1
  • Election Code: Short Film Competition
  • The casuality of tie with suit
  • The Naked Reality :: Poem
  • Jobs at Ascend Institute, Lambulane
  • Students Admission in private school
  • Civil Engineer to be stationed in Manipur
  • Training & Rehearsal Programme on EVM
  • NE has potential to push medical systems
  • Film to be screened at Berlin film fest
  • The hopeless future
  • Khoupum Valley & Cave #3 : Gallery
  • Neroca FC kit distribution : Gallery
  • Gita-Govinda : Synopsis of Play
  • BJP vs Congress: Setting the right agenda
  • The Northeast migrants in Delhi #1
  • Economic blockade : Why it matters?
  • Intensifying Global Crisis & Conflict #3
  • EVM / VVPAT familiarization Campaign
  • Indo-Naga Talks 2017 :: News Timeline
  • Inadvertently strengthening Cong : Election
  • Timely action
  • USPA Vs Manipur : Women's Polo #1: Gallery
  • Combing operation @Thangal Bazar: Gallery
  • Gaan Ngai @ Namguilong #2: Gallery
  • Atonna, Chanaphul, Morungkham :: eMing
  • Kabuliwallah : Synopsis of Play
  • On MCSCCE-2016 : Open letter to MPSC
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
  • The Fruit :: Poem
  • Zeliang asked to step in
  • Ensuring Nagaland State Diversity Policy
  • Director of Education(S) : admission norms
  • Election Code : Facilities for Observers
  • Issuing invite to UNC for talks
  • Trekking to Dzukou Valley #1: Gallery
  • Keibul Lamjao - Play synopsis
  • This Way, That way or Highway
  • Significance of Gaan-Ngai festival #3
  • Bandhs and blockades of Manipur
  • A Boat on the River :: Poem
  • RIST talk 25: Dynamics of Deep Eutectics
  • Election Model Code : Requisition of Staff
  • General Body Meeting of CADA
  • Germany hosts 35 soccer players
  • LDFM likely to play key role
  • The Killing Fields :: News Timeline
  • Time to make AFSPA a poll issue
  • Politics in Manipur
  • Meiteilon Folk & Tangkhul duet : Ooba
  • Imoinu Erat Thouni #3: Gallery
  • How to be unique among private schools
  • The measuring Tape :: Poem
  • Points On Election Manifesto in Manipur #4
  • HSE examination Schedule 2017
  • HSLC examination Schedule 2017
  • Election Code : Use of school Grounds
  • Public hearing on Child Rights- Postphoned
  • TSA DJ Celebration Committee Formed
  • Lecture : Democratic Transition in Burma
  • Mary Kom- needs to tackle insurgency
  • Group seeks global support
  • Not the time to pass the buck
  • Lamkhunu Na Chakkouba :: Funga Wari
  • Gaan Ngai @Moirangkhom #1: Gallery
  • Gaan Ngai @Ragailong #2: Gallery
  • Ever smiling Prof Gangmumei
  • Buddhism and politics #2
  • Election Model Code : Use of Loudspeakers
  • Election Model Code : Govt. Scheme
  • Interaction of President Of India
  • Mohammedan signs Reisangmei Vashum
  • Rs. 6.95 lakh cash in new notes seized
  • Dos and don'ts for the media
  • Sanamanbi Sanarei :: eRang Classic
  • Angkor Wat @Cambodia #3: Gallery
  • Kappu Ema Kapsi Penna Ngasidi : Poem
  • ESC for PG Course, MU- abnormal case
  • The old mental baggage
  • Buddhist connection of Hajo in Assam
  • Sadar Hills District Demand :: Articles
  • Women Support Centre launched in Delhi
  • Power of the commoners
  • Gaan Ngai @ Namguilong #1: Gallery
  • Chinglen Nongdrenkhomba #2: Gallery
  • Jangled all the way with Jiangam
  • 2nd Statehood Women Polo Tournament
  • Polo tour to protect rare breed of pony
  • What do Nagas think about Nagas?
  • RIST talk 24: Cosmological Observations
  • Appointment of Director of IGNTU-RCM
  • Alleged Torture of Gaidon Kamei
  • Non-indigenous Nagas filing nominations
  • Key issues missing in run up to polls
  • Assumption but it is possible
  • Lamlong Keithel #5 : Gallery
  • Sonia Nepram bags Young Achiever Award
  • Human Rights in India: UN periodic review III
  • Indian NGOs slam India's human rights
  • God Loves You All The More :: Poem
  • My maiden sojourn of enchanting NE #2
  • Summary Of Electoral Rolls Released
  • Jobs Opening @ Virgo Enterprise
  • Jobs Opening @ Taibang Sintha
  • Questioning the silence of Delhi
  • Political pandemonium: opportunity ...
  • Imoinu Erat Thouni #2: Gallery
  • Puthiba Haraoba @Tripura : Gallery
  • Prof Irabanta in the galaxy of Aerobiologist
  • The Naga question
  • Judicious Selection Of Candidates
  • Your financial health
  • Youth Street News 2017 Calendar released
  • Voter Awareness Activities: 11 MLA Election
  • Rijiju blames Manipur govt for eco-blockade
  • Thang-ta fights for recognition
  • Incomplete idea of India as a Nation
  • Unfulfilled promises Who should be blamed
  • Gaan Ngai @ Ragailong #1: Gallery
  • Eyek Tamba :: Learn Manipuri script
  • Significance of Gaan-Ngai festival #1
  • Milk hygiene practice in India
  • Goa International Youth Football Fest
  • 4th WIM Cup 2016 at Goa
  • Fresh impetus to Naga talks
  • Pulling up sleeves before election
  • The public: more than mere numbers
  • Reinterpreting Anglo-Kuki War, 1917-1920
  • Chinglen Nongdrenkhomba #1: Gallery
  • Gaan-Ngai: Zeliangrong Fest :: Flash
  • Gaan-Ngai: Zeliangrong Festival :: Articles
  • Blockade and bandh bonanzas
  • Tangkhul Welfare Society Mumbai - Stmt
  • Model Code of Conduct: Discretionary Fund
  • Binalakshmi Nepram meets Thant Myint-U
  • From goods trucks to passenger buses
  • Imoinu Erat Thouni #1: Gallery
  • A Hymn for Goddess Emoinu
  • All about Gaan-Ngai : Gangmumei Kamei
  • Follow The Code And Go To Vote :: Poem
  • State level Manipuri Pony Show
  • Model Code of Conduct : Republic Day
  • Verdict of the Court says guilty
  • Khoupum Valley & Cave #1 : Gallery
  • Manipur Press Club day : Gallery
  • Prof. Gangmumei Kamei: Personal Tribute
  • Thought on current situation in Manipur
  • My maiden sojourn of enchanting NE #1
  • My New Year :: Poem
  • Transformation of govt into governance #3
  • Fresh proposal for tripartite talk
  • Discussion on Manipur today & tomorrow
  • Painting Competition - Voters Day
  • Requisites for a fresh start
  • Prof Gangmumei Kamei Funeral: Gallery
  • Points On Election Manifesto in Manipur #1
  • Clean Rolls For Fair Poll : Poem
  • Can BJP deny Okram Ibobi a 4th term
  • Every day is a New Year's day
  • Foundation Day of Manipur Press Club
  • PG Course in Plastic Surgery at Shija
  • Election Expenditure monitoring measure
  • Board for issue of Disability Certificate
  • ILP System Demand- Photos from 2012
  • Workshop on Digital Payment Systems
  • KNLF merges with UKLF
  • Fmr. Minister son convicted in murder case
  • Priyanka Rajkumari #2 (Photos) :: eRang
  • Khunung Eeshei/ Ema Emoinu #3 : Radio
  • New Year picnic @Sekmai #2: Gallery
  • Daylight Robbery In Manipur
  • Ibobi lost control over his own creation
  • NABH certifies Shija Hospitals
  • CEO Notice on Poll Model Code of Conduct
  • Promotion of payment through Digital mean
  • Condolence for Prof Gangumei Kamei
  • Highway siege hits fuel prices
  • Parties spar over crisis
  • Recalling the Oja in Prof Kamei
  • When election subsides major issues
  • Pana Polo Exhibition #2: Gallery
  • Assembly Election : Poll Schedule
  • Wild edible plants & indigenous fruits
  • Possible reasons for creation of new district
  • Who says there is no hope for Manipur
  • New Year message for 2017
  • Shillong Lajong FC : Complete Team List
  • Inner Line Permit (ILP) Demand : Timeline
  • New Year picnic @Singda : Gallery
  • Diana Khumanthem- IAS candidate: Gallery
  • UNC prez judicial custody [Jan 2]: Gallery
  • 'Goals for Girls' USA visited Andro Team
  • New Year picnic @Sekmai #1: Gallery
  • Online 2017 Manipuri Calendar :: Tools
  • A brand new year! :: Poem
  • Featured Front Page Photo for 2016 #6
  • New Year 2017 eve -Shopping: Gallery
  • Manipuri Calendar for 2017 : Download
  • Maphou Dam @ Mapithel Hills : Gallery
  • Miss Manipur 2016 #4 : Gallery
  • Ethoi Oinam - Actress Profile :: eRang
  • Journalists protest [Dec 27] : Gallery
  • 60th CC Meet Final #2 : Gallery
  • Manipur Sangai Festival : Photos from 2012
  • Moirangthem Rajen : Akademi Award
  • Landscape of Manipur #3: Wallpaper
  • 60th CC Meet Semifinal #2 : Gallery
  • 60th CC Meet Semifinal #1 : Gallery
  • Police personnel ambushed : Gallery
  • Honour to police killed : Gallery
  • Imas from Nupi Lan: Gallery
  • Diana Khumanthem (IAS candidate)
  • Manipur Phone Directory :: e-pao Tools
  • SPONSORED ADS