TODAY -

Chronicling the culture of bandh : The man who has seen it all
- The Sangai Express Editorial :: August 29 2018 -



As a man who was at the helm as the Chief Secretary of the State from 2004 to 2008, Jarnail Singh must surely know what he was talking about.

The figures also say it all.

It was during his tenure as the Chief Secretary that losses suffered by the State on account of bandhs and blockades were systematically worked out as evidenced in the figures given in his soon to be released book, “My Tryst with Manipur : A Memoir.”

In short the former Chief Secretary detailed that there were bandhs for 80 days in 2004-2005, for 145 days in 2005-2006 and 119 days in 2006-2007.

The loss incurred was Rs 5.34 crore per day in 2004-2005, Rs 6.13 crore per day in 2005-2006 and Rs 6.88 crore per day in 2006-2007.

On the other hand the loss incurred due from blockades ranged from Rs 2.32 crore to Rs 3.01 crore.

So from 2004 to 2007, the State suffered a total loss of Rs 1,319 crore.

And to tackle the menace of bandh in the State, the former Chief Secretary suggested taking leaders behind the bandhs to Court, arguing that this will act as a deterrent.

No argument over here, but to suggest ‘some public spirited individual or individuals file a case or cases in the High Court and force the organisers of bandhs and blockades to compensate for the loss,’ may be asking too much for the already embattled people.

Given the fact that the people in general have all been brow beaten into quiet submission all these years, expecting them to come forward and file case or cases against bandh or blockade sponsors may just be expecting too much.

As things stand, the High Court of Manipur has already taken suo moto note of the bandh culture in the State and had even directed the media not to ‘glorify’ bandhs.

The question is, why do bandhs occur with such alarming regularity in Manipur ? Why ?

This is a question worth pondering and while the BJP led Government had promised a bandh and blockade free Manipur soon after it was sworn in last year, bandhs do continue to be imposed on different agenda.

It is also worth recalling that the period 2004 to 2008 was perhaps one of the most volatile periods in the recent history of the State, with different groups pulling in different directions.

It was in 2005 that Manipur witnessed the first marathonesque economic blockade, when the All Naga Students’ Association, Manipur imposed the 52 days economic blockade.

Latter blockades surpassed the 52 days mark but one can easily recall the impact it had on the lives of the common people.

Or remember the time when one kilogram of Onion shot up to nearly Rs 100, when a blockade was imposed on the demand to upgrade Sadar Hills to a full fledged district and the stand which opposed any design to grant district status to Sadar Hills.

These are just some examples that come to mind and significant to note that the former Chief Secretary has deemed it fit to pen down his observations and suggestions in a book.

This is a fitting response to a situation of which Jarnail Singh had a first hand account.

It will help if prominent citizens of the land pool in their thoughts and come out with suggestions on how to deal with the menace of bandhs and blockades.

At the moment, Jarnail Singh has penned down his thoughts and one hopes this opens the floodgate.



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