TODAY -

A prisoner society, caged people and process of dehumanization
- Part 1 -

Kh Ibomcha *



Manipur is suffering from a 'collective depression.'
-GK Pillai (Former Union Home Secretary)

This was what GK Pillai (former Union Home Secretary) said while delivering a lecture at a well-known institute in Delhi. It is more than crystal clear and one can evidently see traces of depression in the minds of Kanglei people as a whole. And, this collective psychological state or rather the fear psychosis with which we have been living can be traced to the ongoing "Indo-Manipur political conflicts" borne out of the controversial Manipur Merger Agreement 1949 and the consequent imposition of the Armed Forced (Special Power) Act, 1958 in Manipur resulting in gross human rights violation including extrajudicial killings, rapes, beatings and missing of people besides brutal killings of a number of Kanglei 'PAKHANG' endearingly called by Kanglei mothers as 'phijigi mani' (their only gem) who took up arms protesting against the alleged annexation of Manipur into the dominion of India voicing catchphrases like "India na Manipur bu Namphuda lousinkhibani" and "Eikhoi Indian Natte''.

While trying to depict the way of life in this depressing land Kangleipak, it is worth recalling that Kangleipak is a space "cartographically" located in the north eastern region of India, also called WESEA by the nationalists of the region, where a number of "Meecham" get slaughtered in the name of counter insurgency operation conducted by Indian security forces who are supposed to protect them.

If you do a google search typing 'Manipur' you are sure to come across the ironic fact that Kangleipak (Manipur) is one of the most militarized states in the world with one security personnel for every five men— militarized Kangleipak. Yes! The most militarized state within the world's largest democracy, India, conceived on the Idea of justice and equality. Further readings will point out how its army has allegedly committed gross human right violation including extra judicial killings, beating and rapes leaving indelible scars on the inner cores of million of Kangleichas. While physician speaks of the existence of collective post-traumatic stress disorder among Kanglei people, sociologists talk about Kanglei people as a group of people inured to the acts of violence and injustice meted out to them.

The militarization of the state, coupled with the imposition of armed forces special powers act providing unchecked powers to arrest, seize and shoot to kill conferred on Indian army, has produced rippling effects on the psychological and emotional state of Kangleicha.

Going by the above mentioned facts, any thinking man in Manipur can rationally infer that the Government of India has more or less intentionally imposed the Act in Manipur implicitly to subdue Kanglei people rather than insurgent movement. Germane to the case, one can appositely recall Sardar Patel's word to Nehru about the people in north-east or rather WESEA (imagined by the nationalists of the region) as a group of people who do not have "any loyalty or devotion to India."

Thus one can astutely conclude that Kangleipak was never included in the idea of India imagined by New Delhi and neither did they take Kangleichas as their own people.

"My heart goes out to the people of Assam."
Jawaharlal Nehru

This was what Jawaharlal Nehru said in his memorable message sent to the people of the Northeast bidding goodbye to them and handing them over to China when the then North-East Frontier Agency had fallen into the hands of China during Indo-China War, 1962. Nothing has been more touted as an example of Indian colonialism in the region (the Northeast) than the farewell speech of Nehru.

Nehru's farewell message to the people of the Northeast can be read as retreat of the mandarins and political elites belonging to the other parts of the country (read mainland India) colonializing WESEA or rather the present Northeast as prominent journalist Jadu Kakati wrote in his essay in Assam and Assamese Mind (an Assam Sahitya Sabha publication). Point to be noted here is that New Delhi never took Kangleipak as a part of India that they imagined, and neither did it consider the people as India's own, opined many local experts. What is more worrying about is the sense of alienation from their (Kangleicha's) own being as a direct result of delinking them from their own cultural roots as they have been excessively repressed while subduing what has been known as insurgency.

The development of a phobia on loving "own nation" or rather the fear of being a 'Leipak Nungsiba Mee'—a psychological state deeply rooted in the young minds of Kangleichas as a product of prolonged Indo-Manipur political conflict as mentioned above—can be understood from a philosophical point of view by putting it in a historical perspective. It was within that fear-filled environment churned out of Indo-Manipur political conflict and the Armed Forces Special Power Acts, 1958' that we were born and got matured with the fear of Indian boots (read Army) deeply-seated in our every nerves and tissues making us compressed and disintegrated fearing even to love our own 'Leipak' where our umbilical cords buried—a sense of alienation even before we gained the conscious of what life was all about.

Traveling back to the past, particularly the period of 1980-90, you can still feel or fathom the fear hammered into your mind with people wearing somber faces, known or unknown to you, walking funeral procession silently through Kanglei Leirak-lamjao, carrying coffins draped in white clothes wherein lies the corpse of 'Naharol' or rather an insurgent (revolutionary) who could be one of your friends' brother or even your own brother—breaking million hearts.

As a child I often asked myself why they had been killed for loving their 'leibak', while back at school we had been taught to pay respect and tributes to Indian Nationalists like Bhagat Singh and Chandrasekhar Azad for the sacrifices they made for their nation. This article is not to justify resorting to armed struggle as the correct means to resolve the decades-long Indo-Manipur conflict that revolves around the Manipur merger agreement, 1949— an agreement which was never ratified or subjected to a plebiscite, and neither do I stand against any Kanglei nationalist group.

But it is just an attempt to point out how the prolonged conflict between non-state actors and state actors taken place in Manipur over the last few decades tearing million hearts, throws the minds of Kanglei youths into a whirlpool of confusion misconstruing the idea of patriotism as something illegal and indictable—rather a crime that can lead them to the gallows.

Here it is worth mentioning that while trying to understand and finding the root of all the atrocities meted out on the people of Kangleipak by Indian security forces with legal protections under the controversial armed forces special powers act 1958 through which mindless killings, kidnapping, and fake encounters executed by them have been normalized, we can sensibly refer to the rationalistic relationship between the Manipur Merger Agreement,1949 concluded between the king of Manipur and the authorities of the then dominion of India and the birth of nationalist movement popularly known as 'Naharol Lanhouba' not only rejecting the agreement claiming as illegal and unconstitutional but also asking for 'freedom 'or sovereignty which Manipur had before it has been annexed into India in 1949.

To be continued...


* Kh Ibomcha wrote this article for Hueiyen Lanpao
This article was posted on November 17, 2015.


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