TODAY -

August: A month of tears and smiles

Seram Neken *

Floral tribute on Patriots' Day
Floral tribute on Patriots' Day ; Pix - Ratan Saikhom



Will the people of Manipur have the occasion to celebrate the onset of a new restrictive regime to check influx of outsiders and to protect the indigenous state population during this August?

The Voiceless Speaks
Seram Neken




In August, many people around the world celebrate their freedom as many others observe their awes of all hues. It has indeed been a month of tears, as it has been of smiles on the face of another millions. Will the indigenous people of Manipur celebrate this August in gait? Or will they remain observing the long pending aspirations? The government and the civil society bodies of Manipur are in a hectic schedule to celebrate as well as observe memorable moments in its history. Manipur celebrated its freedom from the British yoke on 14 August in 1947, a day before India got independence from the colonial regime after centuries of subjugation.

On 13th of the month in 1891, two gallant sons of Manipur - Bir Tikendrajit and Thangal General made the supreme sacrifice of their lives for their motherland. In the evening of August 13, the British hanged them in public at Imphal Polo ground for their alleged rebellion against the white regime. It remains a red letter day in the history of the once independent kingdom, which later became a part of the Indian sub-continent on 15th October 1949.

On August 27 in 1965, people of Manipur spearheaded by the student forces revolted against the artificial famine created out of the Indian businessmen's hegemony and misrule of the then state's rulers. Hunger Marchers' Day every year reminds Manipuris of their claims for the right to food, which was brutally responded with bloodshed. The memorial at Pishum Chingamacha still narrates the story of students' power in almost all uprisings to save their basic rights.

The unfortunate incident, in which many students laid down their lives in police firing while protesting against non-availability of rice due to artificial famine in the State, gave birth to All Manipur Students Union (AMSU) which celebrates its birthday on 28 August every year.

Very recently on 4th August 1997, people of Manipur demonstrated their defiance against the tendencies to smash the harmonious existence of its indigenous inhabitants. Observance of Manipur Integrity Day and the Integrity Pillar at Imphal Pologround stand testimony to the people's inherent aspirations for a unified and dignified existence within the Indian political framework.

It was on 8 August 2009 that a story appeared in Tehelka Magzine unleashed the series of fake encounter designs orchestrated by state security forces on innocent Manipuris. It really opened the Pandora's Box, inside which a long chain of encounter dramas remained hidden for long.

August seems synonymous with people's movements around the globe. A host of nations gained independence from foreign occupancy in the month of August in different years. Ecuador became a free country on 10 August 1822 and Uruguay gained independence from Brazil on 25 August 1825.

After years of struggle, Bolivia became a republic on 6 August 1825. Korea, Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia celebrate their independence days in the month of August. Hawaii became the 50th state of the United States on 21 August 1959. Vietnam's revolution succeeded on 19 August 1945. Gandhiji's Quit India movement materialised on 9 August 1942. India gained Independence on 15 August 1947 with the formation of Pakistan as a Muslim state the same day.

To many nationalities, August is a month of great tragedies. The memory of the August 6 and August 9 bombings on Hirosima and Nagasaki in 1945 still lingers in the minds of peace-loving people of the globe. After these greatest crimes against humanity, Japan declared unconditional surrender on August 15.

Amid celebrations for the golden achievements of state's sportspersons during the recently concluded commonwealth games, August 2014 in Manipur also witnesses people's cries for their rights and justice.

This August, Manipur celebrates the glory of weightlifter Kh. Sanjita who opened the medal account of the country in the Commonwealth Games 2014 by winning the first Gold medal for India. It is great news that six other state players Mirabai Saikhom, Sushila Likmabam, Sarita Laishram, Devendro Laishram, Kangujam Chinglensana and Kothajit Kadangbam grasped Silver Medals for the country, while Kalpana Thoudam bagged bronze medal. Another rejoice for Manipur is the setting up of a sports university, a gift to be presented to congress-ruled powerhouse of sports by the Modi led BJP government at the centre. August 2014 is indeed a turning point for Manipur sports.

First week of August added a feather on the Manipur administration with the cabinet decision for creation of 5 new sub-divisions in hill districts. Inauguration of the new 200 feet long Bailey bridge over Leimatak River to provide connectivity to Loktak Downstream Hydroelectric Power Project is a leap forward towards ‘looking up the hills initiative' of the state government.

As announced during the first week of this August, the State Government is working to develop New Cachar Road as another life line of Manipur. Moreover, first week of August witnessed setting up of the ‘National Highways Connectivity Company Ltd (NHCCL)' for the North East to undertake improvement works on National Highway-2 (Imphal-Dimapur road) and National Highway-37 (Imphal-Jiribam road) on war footing from October onwards.

Victim families of extrajudicial killings must have a sigh of relief this August, as the Supreme Court recently directed states to furnish investigation reports on extrajudicial killings to them. It is surely a welcome development in Manipur where the voices of numerous families remained unattended to by state government for long. In the midst of good news, crimes such as racial attacks on north easterners in national capital, rapes and murders in the nook and corner, and unnatural deaths due to medical negligence in Manipur haunt August 2014.

Agitations over brutal murder of a young woman Ranjita from Yairipok area add tense to the already agitated August. Issues of medical negligence and subsequent deaths galore the beginning of this month, with a seemingly interesting report of ‘3-feet long bandage defecation' by a woman patient in her post-operation stage that appeared widely in the local papers. State government adamantly acts on irregularities of health professionals, which often lead to unnatural deaths thereby jeopardizing credibility of health system in Manipur.

August 2014 has become historic in Manipur University with the first ever shelling of tear gas on students reported from the sanctified campus. Autocracy still prevails in the highest educational institution of a democratic Manipur. University authority in Manipur needs to be trained on efficient administration.

Police brutality and government indifference towards the agitations for implementation of Inner Line Permit system marks the beginning of August this year. Highly privileged legislators of Manipur always await provocations by severe public movements, before they utter their voice in public. Seemingly good news is that the newly figured political parties' brigade led by state Home Minister has decided to seek expert views for a viable restrictive regime to save indigenous inhabitants of Manipur. Every problem has a solution. The burning ILP issue is no exception. The only need of the hour is ‘consultation' backed by sincerity of approach and the political will.




* Seram Neken wrote this article for Hueiyen Lanpao [English Edition]
This article was posted on August 12, 2014.


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