TODAY -

A prisoner society, caged people and process of dehumanization
- Part 2 -

Kh Ibomcha *



If you travel across the post-merger socio-political landscape of Kangleipak you will find it very clear that all the issues happening within this period, which is since 1949 to till today, center on the Manipur merger agreement.

Heiranggoi-thong massacre, Rims bloodbath, Malom-Meehat, Tonsem lamkhai killings, the killing of Manorama, disappearance of Bijoykumar, missing of Sanamacha, the death of Netaji, the rape of Ahanjaobi by two army personnel before her disabled 12-years-old son in 1996 are some of the ugly examples of the armed forces special power acts Manipur has seen in the last two three decades. These unnerving events instilled so much fear in the minds of kanglei people that kanglei society seems to have suffered from a severe psychological disorder which can be pathologically described as collective depression.

Not for nothing that so many innocent people have been killed in the name of handling insurgency. As said above the only reason why security forces open fire and kill innocent in the name of maintaining law and order is to produce psychological disorder and instill fear among Kanglei people so that riding roughshod over us can be made keep going.

As far as I know those brutally killed in the above episodes by security forces are neither terrorist nor criminal but innocent civilians of Kangleipak who have been given the name 'Atangwadi' after being killed.

The moment when I came to know the that the armed forces special power act 1958 empowers the security forces to open fire on any Kangleicha even to the extent of causing death on mere suspicion as written in the article 4(a) of the act, I felt more like a fish in "Ngayok Chafu" than a human being.

While assessing the impact of army brutality on the psyche of our young boys and girls during their formative period, it is worth recalling the fear we felt seeing security force way back in 1990s that a mere sight of Indian armies standing at our gate or 'leirak' made our hairs stand on end. If one imagines what might have happened to those skulls unearthed while digging up at the former site of the Tombisana High school complex which was once occupied by paramilitary during the height of indo-Manipur political conflict, one can unmistakably picture how life would look like during the period. And that was when we were growing up.

With childhood memories of terrors, mass killings, rapes, curfewed nights, painful cries of Kanglei-mothers passing out on their son's "mongpham" and their tears asking zillion questions—unreciprocated and unheeded, I could not help myself doubting if India had been taking up a project—the project dehumanization— aiming at metamorphosing Kangleichas into 'Mathibong Meetamban' or semi-humans suppressed and crushed hammering extreme fears into their psyches.

We seem to have been so much intimidated that we even don't dare to mention the word sovereignty—the fear of freedom or eleutherophobia. The mere mention of sovereignty or 'Ningtamba' seems to have sent chills down our spine for the fear of a greater repression despite knowing the fact we had been a sovereign nation having a written constitution, the first of its kind in south Asia, just before Maharaja of Manipur was made to sign the Manipur merger agreement on September 21, 1949, that too under duress and coercion.

If one carefully watches these fears profoundly ingrained in our minds putting in the framework of Faucauldian perspective of power and knowledge, one can evidently understand how the imposition of the Armed Forces Special Power Act 1958, as a measure of handling insurgency in Manipur, produced a new form of knowledge endorsing the idea of India imagined by the mandarins of Delhi trying to completely wipe out the idea of Kangleipak as a nation from the emotional contents of a typical Kangleicha.

In other words, the post-merger Kangleipak can be taken as an experimental site where the dominion of India exercised its authority spewing out violence over Kanglei people to form and insert a new form of knowledge based on the idea of unity in diversity adroitly crafted to subsume the socio political uniqueness of peripheral states like Manipur into mainland culture.

Seeing bullet ridden copses of 'Kanglei pakhangs' who have been killed in the name of counter-insurgency or handling insurgency, as a child we have learnt the consequence of loving 'Ima-Leipak' by heart.

'Stop loving "Nareipak' or you will meet the same fate' was the idea we have had imprinted on our minds as young Boys and Girls when we saw blood soaked corpses lying in the front page of almost every Kanglei newspapers.

While rampant human rights violations and extrajudicial murders under the cover of Armed Forces Special Powers Act were normal feature of life in the 90s, there had also been a series of intense debates on the issue of the Manipur Merger Agreement and its legal validity organizing not only on the streets but also on academic podiums letting us know the key idea around which Indo-Manipur political conflict orbits explaining why Meitei nationalists were launching armed struggle against India and being slayed every so often then.

Over the last few decades we've read enough articles about the Manipur Merger Agreement by a number of academics, intellectual and scholars finding out various lapses during the process of transacting the agreement apart from pointing out the too familiar fact that the King of Manipur was intimidated to sign the said agreement using military power by the Government of India.

Here it is important to understand that letting Kanglei people including young boys and girls understand every subtle nuances about the agreement does not seem enough to assume that we have succeeded in arming them with capabilities that could set themselves free from the fears profoundly lodged in their consciousness.

While there will be never-ending debates on the topic of merger agreements, what I basically would be dealing with is the fears we piled up on our psyches delinking the spiritual components of being a Kangleicha from our own being that often leads us to a mental state near to 'collective depression' what can be symptomatized as "fear-of-being-oneself".

Every Tom Harry and Dick know that the Manipur Merger Agreement can be rejected on the basis of article 52 of the Vienna convention on the law treatise, 1969 which says "A treaty is void if its conclusion has been procured by the threat or use of force in violation of the principles of international law embodied in the charter of the United Nations."

Now it has become a general knowledge for almost every Kanglei boys and girls that the merger agreement is a treaty without any binding on the contracting parties as it was never ratified by either Indian parliament or Manipur legislative assembly.

They have also known that the validity of the agreement is questionable as it has never been subject to a plebiscite which is important in determining as respects whether Kanglei people want to remain independent or join India.

Going beyond these too familiar arguments, I think, there is a need to find out a way of anchoring our young minds to our sensibilities rooted in our soil which, as mentioned above, was made disassociated and delinked from their inner being so that they can be refilled with basic components of human being what we use to call patriotism or nationalism. For it, we need to educate them to re-humanize removing layers of fears covering their minds, a new form education which can be best described as 'pedagogy of the oppressed' as used by Paulo Freire.

Observing evident existence of fear, injustice, exploitation, oppression and violence as a fruit of decades-long Indo-Manipur political conflict, one can take to mean that there has been a process of dehumanization going on in Manipur delinking people from their inner being— elements what constitute them a man or rather a Kangleicha.

Every so often we find ourselves being stuck into a quagmire of confusion borne out of non-cognizance of the ongoing process of dehumanization or mistaking it as historical vocation sometimes leading us to a mental state near to cynicism or hopelessness.

To be continued...


* Kh Ibomcha wrote this article for Hueiyen Lanpao
This article was posted on November 21, 2015.


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