Beyond the Episode
Death of Politics and Destiny of Manipur

By Angomcha Bimol Akoijam *

The brutal murder of the migrant workers speaks about the destiny of Manipur more than many would care to know. It is not a specific episode but something that marks the nature of our trajectory as a collective political being. It is high time for us to do some crucial soul searching.

Who could possibly be the enemy of the poor labourers who struggle for life on a daily basis?

Would a people who are already fighting for their own right to life and dignity, to be recognised as a self-respecting and respected member of the civilised global community of peoples, be the enemy of such labourers?

Shouldn't we ask this question, irrespective of the fact that the idea of terrorism as an act of targeting "non-combatants" has been there for a long time before the same discourse has come to inform a politics of de-legitimisation in the post 9/11 global order?

Indeed, what political legitimacy could the enemy of these labourers people who have already been hounded out of their own homestead by destitution and castist discrimination achieve by murdering them in cold blood?

Even if one were to go by an intriguing suggestion that the influx of these labourers to Manipur is a part of a sinister design to subvert the economy and demographic character of the State, who are the victims here anyway? Shouldn't we ask this question irrespective of whether there would be retaliation against the Manipuris outside the state or not?

In any case, isn't it critical for one to know what has made such an influx possible in the first place? For instance, do we need to ask as to how many "sons of the soil" would do the labour that these migrant labourers do for "us"? Unlike them, don't our own "local" labourers (e.g., rickshaw pullers) cover their faces to protect their "dignity (of labour)"?

What is the nature of our economy anyway? Isn't it a donor-driven economy that primarily sustains itself on "grants" from "others"?

Incidentally, don't some people term such an economy "colonial" or "neo-colonial" that subverts our collective being? But how do we try to resist, if at all there is such a resistance to, this economy?

By partaking in it or getting seduced by its culture of "easy money" its underhand dealings, percentage cuts and institutionalised corruption and the corresponding practices of ideological, intellectual and moral bankruptcy, and the capacity and willingness to kill each other for one's shares of the spoil?

Are these questions relevant to those for whom murder with impunity and dead bodies being dumped, displayed or discovered here and there have become part of the "normal" daily life?

The answer should be a categorical "yes" precisely because the brutal murder of the migrant workers is nothing but a symptom that signals the deepening of a "life threatening" disease that afflicts Manipur. And that disease is violence in its unbridled form that has come to entirely usurp politics in Manipur today.

Politics has been divested of its cardinal search for a life that can be articulated and practiced in terms of "justice" and "rights" etc. Even politics as power has been simultaneously trivialised and vulgarised in terms of solely practicing tangible violence.

Thus, affected by this disease, the body politics of Manipur is marked by ideological and intellectual bankruptcy and weakening of institutions.

Beneath the Symptom

Symptoms of the deadly affliction have manifested time and again for a long time now. But each time, people seem to have responded only to the symptoms, and that too episodically. As a result, most have failed to recognise, leave alone addressing and grappling with, the underlying aliment that afflicts the body politics of the State.

For long time, Manipur is a State, where the lawful agencies of the State could kill people with impunity and principle of criminal jurisprudence could be thrown to the dustbin (such as exemplified by the enforcement of the notorious Acts like the AFSPA, and conducts of the executive arms of the State).

Does anyone care to remember that ours is a state where custodial murder of a woman and a public display of her dead body has been defended and justified? And that ours is a state where police could shoot down a citizen for a traffic altercation that he had with them in broad-daylight?

Indeed, in Manipur, for a long time, the legitimacy of the State has been sought, not in terms of "governance", but primarily in terms of its capacity or potential to commit, or threat to commit, violence that goes beyond the institutional restraints of a politico-legal order.

In the light of such an orientation, "Do's and Don'ts" issued by the Supreme Court while delivering its controversial judgment of upholding the "constitutionality" of the AFSPA obviously stand in reality as hollow directives.

Indeed, with the deepening of the hold of the murderous violence, kaapthatlura and loishallura (should you be shot or finished off) seem to have become the vocabularies of discourse on "political issues" and haattok-uu and loishillu (kill him/her or them and finished him/her or them off) seem to have become the only "political directives".

Rescuing Politics

To think of it, fifty years before the Supreme Court of India issued such a morally nice sounding directives, the Chinese People's Liberation Army had also issued what it called "three main rules of discipline" and "eight points for attention" to its revolutionary fighters.

Its rules of discipline included nice sounding directives such as "obey orders in all your actions", "don't take a single needle or piece of thread from the masses" and "turn in everything captured".

And the call for attention included directives such as "speak politely", "pay fairly for what you buy", "return everything you borrow", "pay for anything you damage", "don't hit or swear at people", "don't damage crops", "don't take liberties with women" and "don't ill-treat captives".

Obviously these directives underscored the fact that every tactical move or act implicates a politics which cannot be anything but articulated and practiced within the moral and ethical domain of human existence.

Indeed, the legitimacy of modern State, and any political movement, critically hinges on its capacity to claim and project such a politics that has its foundation in the moral and ethical domain.

That every State, and also political movement, always seeks its legitimacy in the name of the "people" and their well-being is precisely because of this nature of politics. That is also why it is said that "governance", far more than "sovereignty", vitalises and legitimises the modern State.

This being the case, parties involved in a "political" conflict must show that it is morally and ethically superior to its adversaries.

Without such a claim, if any one of them seeks to rely on its capacity to exercise violence in its unbridled form, it would not only alienate the people but also delegitimise its projects.

One ought to remember that the USA invasion of Iraq has been carried out in the name of protecting "democracy" and saving ordinary Iraqis from their Dictator! This is a moral claim that seeks justification for its brutal force.

If the USA were not to claim and project such a moral and ethical high ground, leave alone any support from the rest of the world, its soldiers would not fight and its citizens would also reject the war univocally.

We say that the confrontation between the State and the "non-State" in Manipur is a political phenomenon, and that it must be resolved politically. But we must recognise that this claim entails recognising the fact that violence in its unbridled form cannot be allowed to usurp politics.

But as it stands today in Manipur, politics is dying in the hands of a culture of unbridled violence perpetuated from all sources and sides. And those who speak about and for the people of Manipur shall not allow this death of politics.

Indeed, people's loyalty will be ultimately with those who seek to reinstate politics by rescuing it from the unbridled violence that critically threatens the very existence of politics in Manipur, and thereby the political being of Manipur itself.

Related Articles:

* Angomcha Bimol Akoijam wrote this article for The Sangai Express . The author can be reached at bimol_akoijam(at)yahoo(dot)co(dot)in . This article was webcasted on June 25, 2008.

* Comments posted by users in this discussion thread and other parts of this site are opinions of the individuals posting them (whose user ID is displayed alongside) and not the views of We strongly recommend that users exercise responsibility, sensitivity and caution over language while writing your opinions which will be seen and read by other users. Please read a complete Guideline on using comments on this website.

  • Relief @Kangpokpi & @Senapati: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 07 Mar : Govt of Manipur
  • Annual Orphanage Visit 2021 at Pune
  • Women's Film Festival @ 3 Districts, Manipur
  • Decision :: Poem
  • Women empowerment through economic..
  • Women empowerment : Nation growth
  • ADCs: Election, not undue delay..
  • My memories of Imphal from 1941 #19
  • COVID-19 Status 06 Mar : Govt of Manipur
  • Gaidingmei, Mathanmi, Wungreikhan: eMing
  • COVID-19 : Impact in Manipur :: News Timeline
  • Budget session & beyond
  • Launch of Cancer OPD Services at Guwahati
  • Less lipstick, more eyeliner
  • Arts Exhibition @ MU #2: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 05 Mar : Govt of Manipur
  • Women's Film Festival 2021 at MSFDS
  • Totem of natives of North East India #2
  • As I see the world in one page :: Poem
  • AMWJU Meeting Resolutions : 05 March 2021
  • Breaking down silos to look beyond exams
  • Mova Cave @ Hunpung, Ukhrul #1: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 04 Mar : Govt of Manipur
  • PROMYS, a summer program in mathematics
  • Meeting of AMWJU : 05 March 2021
  • Dissecting Bird flu
  • Will Bengal vote for a poroborthon ?
  • Job @ Cobigent Technologies
  • Film : Is it a medium or an art form? #2
  • COVID-19 Status 03 Mar : Govt of Manipur
  • Emergency Meeting of AMWJU : 04 March
  • Golden Jubilee of Manipuri Cinema
  • Impact of Climate Change in Agriculture
  • Paradigm shift in role of public sector
  • The God Lainingthou Thangching Koylellai
  • COVID-19 Status 02 Mar : Govt of Manipur
  • When all goes wrong
  • Are we failing children in the HIV response?
  • Counter-cyclical fiscal policy
  • Where will ST demand stand in next election?
  • Ningtham Kummei: Dance Drama #1: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 01 Mar : Govt of Manipur
  • Empowered teachers for local efficiency
  • First step towards regulation of social media
  • Of resignation dramas & disqualifications
  • Today's Manipur as reflected in media
  • Bongbal Kholen, Kpi District #1: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 28 Feb : Govt of Manipur
  • Totem of natives of North East India #1
  • 5 days with Bhaktisvarupa Damodara Swami
  • National Science Day 2021 at Lilong
  • Themes & objectives in National Science Day
  • More teeth to war against drugs
  • Mayang Imphal Keithel #2: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 27 Feb : Govt of Manipur
  • Manipur COVID Vaccination Report : 26 Feb
  • March Calendar for Year 2021 : Tools
  • Road from Imphal to Yangkhullen #2: Gallery
  • Best Panel Lawyer, Best DLSA in Manipur
  • Sustainable Agriculture: Key to Food Security
  • Film : Is it a medium or an art form? #1
  • COVID-19 Status 26 Feb : Govt of Manipur
  • Buyer Seller Meet @ Hotel Imphal: Gallery
  • Job @ Makok Technologies, Keinou
  • Should Meetei belong to Minority or ST #2
  • Colour your hair, limit the damage
  • Medical camp at Lamlaba Village, Tamenglong
  • Japan Lan: Life In Kangla Sangomshang
  • COVID-19 Status 25 Feb : Govt of Manipur
  • AMWJU Meeting : Resolutions [Feb 25]
  • Positions @ KIIT-Tech Business Incubator
  • 'Seeding Gampreneurs' transforming villages
  • Orchidarium at IBSD Shillong is reopened
  • Cracking down on 'errant' teachers
  • Chadong Village/Chadong Lake #1: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 24 Feb : Govt of Manipur
  • Folktales of Mao Maram & Poumai : Gallery
  • Guwahati Session : World Meetei Convention
  • HIV science has advanced but ...
  • I will rise :: Poem
  • Not the time to let the guards down
  • Journalism is not everybody's cup of tea
  • Foot bridges in Imphal #2 : Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 23 Feb : Govt of Manipur
  • AIFF recognised Andro Girls Team : Gallery
  • Relief @ Songlung, Kangpokpi : Gallery
  • Lecture on medicinal plants at IBSD
  • Jobs @ Neopath Technologies, Imphal
  • Students on the protest path
  • Ignoring the core issues
  • My memories of Imphal from 1941 #18
  • COVID-19 Status 22 Feb : Govt of Manipur
  • Implementation: Climate Change : Gallery
  • KAPU Meet: Tribute to Late Benny Khongsai
  • Career options in beauty industry
  • Meet on capacity building on energy efficiency
  • Need to establish cause of death
  • Don't break the bone
  • Shirui Lily Festival 2019 #2 : Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 21 Feb : Govt of Manipur
  • Nakamh-Riangsuanneic - Folklore Film Fest
  • Should Meetei belong to Minority or ST #1
  • Aspergilloma of lung
  • From wetlands to dry lands
  • Ipudhou Pakhangba Puruksoubi #2 : Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 20 Feb : Govt of Manipur
  • Sit-in-protest against bomb threat : Gallery
  • Young Generation and Modernization
  • The Mansion :: Poem
  • Netaji's DNA & INA Moirang
  • Demonstration demanding to cut Price Hike
  • 'Condemn hurling grenade at Governor'
  • Fulfilling the long cherish dream
  • Churachandpur Profile
  • Eyek Tamba :: Learn the Manipuri script
  • COVID-19 Status 19 Feb : Govt of Manipur
  • Paoyi villagers with CM : Gallery
  • Predicament of Journalists & Media Houses
  • A day of stardom for Thoiba Singh at Seoul
  • Lay off hands on the media
  • Smiles of the Emas
  • Cherry Blossom at Mao #2 : Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 18 Feb : Govt of Manipur
  • Basak: A dying art form
  • World War II, INA & Manipuri Literature #2
  • Meeting of AMWJU : Resolutions [Feb 18]
  • CM & Governor urged to cut down price hike
  • Union Minister for Social Justice meet CM
  • Seram Neken joins Congress party
  • Snowfall at Shirui, Ukhrul #2 : Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 17 Feb : Govt of Manipur
  • Meitei-Pong Relations & Conquest of Khampat
  • Dying of Yongchak: declare National Disaster
  • Protection of tribal land in Manipur #2
  • Is policing pandemics different... ?
  • Home remedies for winter hair problems
  • Facets of human trafficking in Manipur
  • COVID-19 Status 16 Feb : Govt of Manipur
  • Road from Imphal to Yangkhullen #1: Gallery
  • Understand prerequisits for ST tag
  • When all goes wrong
  • Centre Head @ JCRE School of Hospitality
  • Khamba Thoibi Jagoi #2 : Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 15 Feb : Govt of Manipur
  • Re-Opening of Ima Keithel : Gallery
  • Emergency Meeting AMWJU: Resolutions
  • ICERME-2021: Intl Conference on SDG-7
  • Law in Motion : Basics of Law
  • Discussion on Koubru Chinggoirol #2
  • COVID-19 Status 14 Feb : Govt of Manipur
  • COVID-19 Status 13 Feb : Govt of Manipur
  • Lui-Ngai-Ni - Naga Seed Sowing Festival
  • Wung-Hao of Tangkhul & Chinese Counterpart
  • World War II, INA & Manipuri Literature #1
  • 3rd Jump Rope Championship : Result
  • My memories of Imphal from 1941 #17
  • Book: Manipur-Myanmar connections: Gallery
  • Mushroom training at Tentha Heibung
  • Workshop on GeoGebra at IISER Bhopal
  • Indian Women & Maths annual conference
  • Walking through final lap of my life :: Poem
  • Can BJP strategy win in Tamil Nadu ?
  • Granting minority status to Meitei
  • Snowfall at Shirui, Ukhrul #1 : Gallery
  • Shanti Thokchom's Life Experiences #44
  • Inspection at Kangla & Cheiraoching : Gallery
  • Protection of tribal land in Manipur #1
  • Oxford and Aatmanirbharta
  • Education in Mother Tongue will strengthen
  • Impressive shows from young MLAs
  • If it is for the people...
  • Ipudhou Pakhangba Puruksoubi #1 : Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 11 Feb : Govt of Manipur
  • Relief at Yangkhullen, Senapati: Gallery
  • Restored Wetland : Yaralpat
  • Appeal: WG to monitor crime against women
  • Distress Relief at Yangkhullen, Senapati
  • Sensitization on constitutional obligation
  • ST demand for the Meiteis
  • Democratisation of Education
  • Licypriya in 'Forbes 30 Under 30' List 2021
  • COVID-19 Status 10 Feb : Govt of Manipur
  • Sushila, Indubala selected for Asian Judo
  • RIST Talk 48 : Microplastic is everywhere
  • Productivity revolution of farmers in Manipur
  • NEC Secretary meeting with CM Manipur
  • Valentine's Day beauty tips
  • College teachers on strike!
  • Are you fooling people of Manipur Mr FM
  • RK Jhalajit's contribution in historiography
  • COVID-19 Status 09 Feb : Govt of Manipur
  • Keibul Lamjao: today in deplorable state
  • Nadda's hailing 'War On Drugs' Campaign
  • Sachi Gurumayum called on CM
  • She really can be trusted for fiscal prudence
  • Child Marriage: Stigma for a civilized society
  • Fate of hostellers
  • Ema Gi Wari by Imphal Talkies : Review
  • COVID-19 Status 08 Feb : Govt of Manipur
  • Projects Inauguration - Tamenglong: Gallery
  • Budget: Perspective on Gender Budget
  • NPF meeting with NSCN (K-Niki)
  • Mushroom training program at Nagamapal
  • Solace me, chap ! :: Poem
  • Active cases below 3 figure mark
  • Mother Nature is still unhappy
  • Discussion on Koubru Chinggoirol #1
  • COVID-19 Status 07 Feb : Govt of Manipur
  • Packaged Organic Product launch : Gallery
  • Naga American announces Scholarship
  • Prize distribution for 9th MANIFA held
  • Range of options to prevent HIV is key
  • Paoyi village setting an example
  • Churachand Maharajgi Imung : Gallery
  • Churachand Maharajgi Imung published
  • Grab the given opportunities
  • A poet :: Poem
  • Supports farmers' movement call
  • Gaan-Ngai @ Iboyaima Shanglen #3 : Gallery
  • Financing burden of lifestyle diseases in NE
  • A budget that lays foundation for growth
  • Sports & Physical Fitness as career choice
  • Volunteers' Meet at Irong Bazar
  • Limping towards the New Normal
  • Is India prepared for Chinese aggression?
  • Re-openning of schools #2 : Gallery
  • Is Compulsive Shopping a Mental Disorder ?
  • Ex-Tempore Competition at Lilong
  • My hundred deaths :: Poem
  • Fragile - Handle with care !
  • My memories of Imphal from 1941 #16
  • The ring has finally arrived!
  • Study of growing traffic congestion in Imphal
  • World Wetlands Day 2021
  • Bringing Equality for Women in Armed Forces
  • Ima Keithels: Closed since March 21
  • Imoinu Erat Thouni @ Imphal #2 : Gallery
  • Understanding panic disorder
  • Life, It is ! :: Poem
  • A pinch of blessing with a tonne of a curse
  • COVID-19 combine to clobber MSME sector
  • Single digit spike of just 4 in last 24 hrs
  • Impact in India after coup in Myanmar
  • Remembering Kuki singer Benny Khongsai
  • Was Netaji really in Manipur ?
  • Environmental impacts of COVID-19 pandemic
  • Memo to CM concerning transportation
  • Gaan-Ngai @ Iboyaima Shanglen #2 : Gallery
  • Gaan-Ngai @ Iboyaima Shanglen #1 : Gallery
  • Naga Peace Process :: News Timeline
  • COVID-19 vaccination [Jan 16] #2 : Gallery
  • COVID-19 vaccination [Jan 16] #1 : Gallery
  • Downloadable Manipuri Calendar :: 2021
  • Featured Front Page Photo 2020 #6: Gallery
  • Sory Wahengbam - Actress Gallery :: eRang
  • 'Zehara' - Manipuri Movie :: eRang Classic