Where the state was is where the state is

Phillip Sharma *

Economic blockade by UNC on December 06 2016
Economic blockade by UNC on December 06 2016 :: Pix - TSE

Now the tension in Manipur has reached a new level. The demands raised by United Naga Council (an apex body of all Nagas in Manipur) towards government has got an unsolicited response from the common people itself except the fact that it is been responded from the people belonging to different communities, the people living in the valley, especially the Meiteis . The state has been reeling under so many crises since its inception, insurgency being one.

Mention may be made that the ongoing economic blockade has already completed one and half months without getting a significant response from the government. Coupled with the impact of demonetisation the people have already faced the top level of hardship. In between this the recent creation of seven new districts by the government of Manipur fosters more trouble and tension in the state.

Due to economic blockade basic items starting from rice to salt, from petrol to medicines are in scarcity. A litre of petrol in the black market could fetch a sum of Rs.300 to Rs.400 or may be Rs 500 sometime. There is no word to describe the hardship faced by the common peoples.

The ongoing economic blockade was set forth on 17th November last month on the allegation that Manipur state government is going to fulfil the demand of creating Sadar Hill areas a new district which the UNC strongly opposed to. The state government decided to go with the decision of creating new districts thus it led to the creation of seven new districts.

The irony is that the UNC has already anticipated this development and had already imposed economic blockade before the districts were created to show the unwelcomeness of the anticipated decision. While paradoxically the demand for the creation of Sadar hill district has been on for decades. There is Sadar Hill District Demand Committee (SHDDC) who demanded the creation of Sadar Hill district.

The creation of Sadar hill District brings joy for SHDC and their supporters while at the same time it create nuisance to UNC and their supporters. The UNC disapproval is on the ground that the district creation will hamper the interest of Nagas as a whole. It is true that several Memorandum of understanding (MoUs) has been signed between UNC and the state government in a bid fulfil their demands. Likewise, MoUs are again signed between SHDDC and the government of Manipur, showing positive development towards their demands.

However, the strategy adopted by the UNC to show disapproval against the government hit hard the common people living in the valley area instead of hitting the main target. Various civil society groups had appealed the UNC to withdraw the economic blockade but it ended in vain. Counter blockade then started in the valley areas, restricting the movement of goods and items towards the hilly region.

Following the recent attack by unknown miscreants who killed three policemen posted on duty to maintain the law and order situation on the eve of inauguration of Technoupal district further intensifies the tussle between the UNCs and the people living in the valley. Immediately a day after the attack Khwairamband Nupi Lup called a state-wide general strike for 24 hours.

In the progress of the strike untoward incidents started pumped up in the valley. And thus, intensifies the violence further. What is interesting here is the role played by the government of Manipur. Instead of bringing the long term solution for the issues that are raised the government is busy in arranging adhhoc measures.

For instance in economic blockade as well as the counter economic blockade police are deployed to stop them and in some cases police escort are provided, albeit in a meagre amount, to help in transportation of goods and items. This is a clear form of coercive repression. It is noteworthy to mention that the present government is ruling the state for three consecutive terms which is going to over shortly without bringing much change in the society per se.

The creation of new districts can be considered as one of the significant step of this government yet a contesting one. State is playing in between the hill valley divide. I am not saying the present state is creating the hill valley divide. It was already created during the British colonisation of Manipur.

But we are not going to dwell much on this because it is a long story and for time being we donít find the need to focus more on this rather looking a possible way out for the current crisis. Now the tussle has earn a new face, the decision taken up by the government made people angry and they turn against one another rather than turning towards government. This is the irony.

We can ask why the government decision ensues a tension between communities instead of launching a popular resistance towards government. Meanwhile the question of integrity is kept in the fore front by the people living in the valley. The valley people seems forget what the state did to them vis-a-vis the UNC activities are also interpreted as an act targeting the valley people which actually is not but doubtful to say.

In this juncture state is relatively autonomous in pursuing its interests which actually are the interest of the elites. For instance the vote bank politics has been one elite interest which the government think necessary to carry forward because it secures them to remain in power.

As the election time is approaching the state will try to manipulate each and every move they take in a motive to secure electoral gain. Peoples need to take into cognizance this factor while looking the larger picture of the ongoing tension, and it is already mentioned above that the present state has been in power for three consecutive terms.

So itís high time to think twice before we act keeping far the question of identity. Oppression is oppression no matter what you are Meiteis or Nagas or Kukis or Nepalis or Pangals. We shouldnít fight each other, rather we should fight oppression altogether.

To make it clear I would just clarify that oppression is not done either by Meiteis against Nagas or Kukis or Meiteis against kukis and so on and so forth. It is inherent in the nature of the state. So, it is high time to change the strategies adopted by whatever parties involved in this, the UNC as well as the valley groups so as to establish a peaceful is settlement between people. Then only we could work together to bring the common end.

* Phillip Sharma wrote this article for
The writer can be contacted at phillipdats(AT)gmail(DOT)com
This article was posted on December 20, 2016.

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