TODAY -

Manipur: The land of bandhs

Ranbir Ningthouja *

Protest against frequent Bandhs and Blockades in state of Manipur :: 28 April 2015
Protest against frequent Bandhs and Blockades in state of Manipur on 28 April 2015 :: Pix - Deepak Oinam



In the prevailing scenario, if one were to look for any sobriquet for this beautiful state, "The land of bandhs" is the most apt one. As they say, in Manipur, we call bandhs at the drop of the hat. We have plethora of them that it can become an area of study for Ph.d. scholars.

Our University should mull over including them in their curriculum. We are so adept in calling and enforcing bandhs that if there were to be any international or national competition like "Bandh World Cup". 'Bandh Olympics' etc., Manipur would surely emerge as the undisputed champion.

Prizes would be doled out in categories like 'longest bandh called', 'District with largest number of bandhs' etc. The day is not far, when our children would aspire to become 'Chief Bandh convener' of Manipur,Imphal East, Ukhrul etc., instead of dreaming to be Doctors, Engineers, and PoliceOfficers etc.

The wisdom behind calling of a bandh is very majestic. If you are aggrieved, let others also feel the pinch. The others- who? Those, who are the cause of those grievances'; no way, they are having a good time, sound sleep. Then who are all affected? Innocent, hapless fellow citizens, daily bread earners, rickshaw pullers, vegetable vendors. So, isn't it cruel? Not at all, everyone has taken it in their stride.

Perhaps, they have learnt to live with it. It also comes as a blessing in disguise for Govt. employees as they can sit relaxed at home and take free salary. Bandh days will witness children playing on the roads, vehicles with stickers like 'Patient', 'marriage' etc. plying scot free. Folks will flog together for a feast with couple of drinks, a game of card etc., to pass the day.

No hard feelings, fun on all sides, win-win situation! Why do we do it? Just for the heck of it. What about its impact on development and economy of the state. Who cares, give it a damn.

The other day, a TV news report highlighted the plight of people lining up in long queues in front of oil pumps to fetch Petrol / Diesel in Nepal in the aftermath of the devastating earthquake. It was a cause of extreme concern in various circles and various agencies like IOCL were swung into action to mitigate the plight.

I was having an ironic feeling that, in Manipur, these days, it is long queues in front of oil pumps everywhere. When a country has been ravaged by a massive earthquake, such distresses are understandable. But, why such a sorry state of affairs in Manipur, most of the time. Yes, because our motherland is a proud land of enthusiastic bandh callers.

A wave of sadism seem to have crept in our society where we are indifferent or rather take delight in such sights where our own brothers and sisters are subjected to agony. Let us just imagine and fathom the quantum of precious man-hours lost for hundreds of people regularly in front of Petrol Pumps. Can they not be put to better use? Is anyone watching or thinking along this line. Is it the fate of the common citizens of our state?

These miseries are further aggravated by those greedy sharks who indulge in black-marketing with the aim to get the maximum catch out of the troubled water.

An organization gives a call for bandh in the newspaper, all these sharks emerge and indulge in dirty trade. It is indeed mystifying to see long lines of humans in front of Oil pumps and just few meters ahead or on the opposite side of the road, you will seebottles filled with Petrol and Funnel displayed, selling Petrol by women vendors. Isn't it a brazen display of lawlessness? Then, where is the scarcity.

When there is no petrol in the oil pumps, where did those vendors find this petrol from? From Nambul river! Why situation is taking such a turn. Is there any regulatory authority or is it a free for all. May be, because, we don't care. Since we have been through worse situations and endured them in the past.

Since it is a perpetual problem, can we not think of bringing in stocks for sufficient cushion time so that the nefarious objectives of bandh callers are defeated? People will say: easier said than done. But, it can be done if there is a strong will to defeat their sinister aim.

When will the realization set in amongst us that, by calling bandhs, we are only inflicting hardship amongst ourselves, to our brethren? After all, it is a family affair. If your brother is put to misery today, you ought to share the same in some way or the other sooner or later.

Why we Manipuris happily resort to bandhs for every issue. Is bandh the only grievance redressal mechanism available in Manipur? Can we think of something novel and constructive of agitating which may appeal to the callous perpetrators of atrocious deeds, but innocuous to fellow citizens. Is anyone listening, band callers, perpetrators, follow citizens.


* Ranbir Ningthouja wrote this article for The Sangai Express
The writer is Second In Command, 109 BN CRPF, Mongsangei, Imphal.
This article was posted on May 20, 2015.


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