The Hill-Valley divide widens again
Jubilate Kazingmei *
The ugly face of ethnic Nationalism has risen again to bare its fangs and spew venom, one crying foul against the other. Unity in diversity could be the beauty of the state depending on what attitude we have. Unfortunately in Manipur the beauty of ethnic diversity has been rather used for political gains by individuals.
The Congress leadership in the state have succeeded capitalising the conflict of interest among the different ethnic groups in the state, united the two groups of political interests in the valley- Meitheis of indigenous origin and Meitheis of Indian origin against the Nagas, even to the extent of winning back the confidence of a renegade Congress MLA and his men who had earlier joined the BJP. There could be no better timing for O Ibobi to announce the creation of seven new districts to win the assembly election for a fourth term in 2017.
But for the Nagas it may be like putting chilly on an old wound. The Naga hills that finds a mention in the book of the great Greek historian Glaudius Ptolemy- The Geographia in AD 150, ever since it was forcibly annexed by Jawaharlal Nehru, divided into pieces and gifted away to different people of different nations.
Out of 120,000 sq km, what was created as Nagaland is just 16555 sq km with 16 tribes out of 82. More than 26000 sq km was gifted away to Burma by Nehru and the rest to Indian states like Assam, Arunachal Pradesh and to Manipur. What remains as part of Manipur forms four of the five hill districts in the state.
Even Churachanpur district infact was land of the Rongmei Nagas gifted to mercenaries of another tribe used by Churachand Maharaj and now Tengnoupal, Kangpokpi and Jiribam by O Ibobi who is at the helm of state power carving out new districts for non Nagas. Nagas have every right to be emotional equally as the people of valley to safeguard territorial integrity of the present state.
For 91 years, ever since the Simon Commission’s visit, we have been saying “Nagas are not Indians”. Between 1955-1964 more than 200,000 Nagas were killed by Indian army shot to death, starved to death, burnt to death, raped to death, among those raped to death 709 were said to be below 20 years. Many maimed and many became insane. 4 lakhs detained in concentration camp for one year, chained and locked, all in the so called state of Nagaland. Out of 860 villages 645 were burned some of them 19 times with all their granaries. (Sources – The blood and tears written by Kaka D Iralu and From Phizo to Muivah written br Dr Lanu Nungsan Ao).
Can we the Nagas in Manipur simply say it did not happen to us? Then we are not qualified to say we are Nagas. All these sacrifices for our land, our identity we want others to understand, while Nagas should also try to understand other’s point of view. What is right or wrong does not end with one side or the other. If my right hurts you and your right hurts me I guess we need to redefine what is right.
Sanity must prevail over politics of ethnic Nationalism. We must reason beyond ethnic nationalism. We have been often forced to believe and accept things we actually don’t understand because it is politics. Naga response to the creation of seven new districts in terms of economic blockade is exactly what Shri O Ibobi wanted as an outcome that will unite the Meitheis of different origins against the Nagas.
Needless to say the intention of the Nagas to starve people in the valley will not find support from any right thinking people across the world. It was nothing more than expression of one’s anger but to be angry is like holding a piece of fire with intention of throwing it to someone, and get yourself burnt.
Nagas just had a month long honeymoon with the Kukis when the Manipur People’s Protection bill was passed in recent past. Are we now caught in our own trap? Was it not a Meithei intellectual who wrote that Kukis are not indigenous people of the state? Where were the Nagas when a paper war was going on between them in print media? Why did the NPF MLAs resign from the membership of Legislative Assembly rather than defend our right over land and resources in the assembly?
Why did the PDA MLAs supported by UNC sign an undertaking that they will protect the territorial integrity of Manipur? Why did the Naga MP supported by UNC voted in favour of Congress during UPA-1 when people were told not to vote for the Congress party candidate? If the Nagas think O Ibobi committed a blunder by not allowing our charismatic leader Th Muivah to visit his village, why are we applying the same logic to two Congress MLAs from Ukhrul? Why did the NPF MLA support the land use policy and formation of Revenue Tribunal in the hills which does not come under Revenue Act of the state?
Whereas, we are ostracising our MLAs for failing to protect Article 371(C) and whereas, we are feeling insecure with people of our own state why are we allowing a swamp of Biharis and Marwaris from mainland India who now absolutely controls the economy of the Tangkhuls? Why are we allowing Bangladeshi masons to completely displace our marginal workforce of the construction sector?
If we believe sovereignty lies with the people why are we allowing one particular political party to violate the basic right of individuals – right to freedom of expression? Can we just forget the heinous crimes Nehru and his Congress party has committed to our people in Nagaland and vote for the Congress?
These are some of the areas of concern the Nagas have to introspect and reason beyond emotional ethnic nationalism. We will find that behaviours of others are simply a reaction to our own. Can we allow UNC and Naga nationalism to be made a launch bed of electoral politics of individuals?
Naga Nationalism is best illustrated by Kaka D Iralu in his book “The blood and tears” where he describes a Naga soldier who refused to salute a superior and says “I am here to defend my land and my fathers and brothers who are being killed! I am here to defend my mothers and sisters who are being raped and I am here to defend Naga sovereignty, not to salute any individual”.
Naga Nationalism is not a corporate business of a few individuals either. I wish to also ask our friends in the valley can you allow Meithei ethnic Nationalism to be used as a launch bed for electoral politics of Shri O Ibobi and his Congress party?
* Jubilate Kazingmei wrote this article for The Sangai Express
This article was webcasted on January 01, 2017.
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