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E-Pao! Governance Opinion - Nupilan Is Coming

Nupilan Is Coming


Geoffery *



It does not seem to be too far when we shall see another Nupilan (Women’s war) in Manipur. 12 Dec was observed as Nupilan Numit (Nupilan Day) to commemorate famous fight, Manipuri women won against unscrupulous Marwari businessmen and British Government in 1939 on this day.

This time it will be against militancy, a bane to the development of the state. This is notwithstanding the contributions of polity towards under development. Optimism is well founded and we all shall see the pristine glory of the Jeweled State (Manipur) restored.

Paona Bazar, Imphal bomb blast (17 Nov 07) incident may be called the start point. Hope this will be seen to its culmination. The anger of the women can be seen in the words of Nandini Devi (wife of Hemsing, a blast victim) who says, “Rebels are ruthless people, who do not value human lives. How can they barter people’s lives for money”?

Another women Ibetombi Devi says, “These militants are not human beings; I would rather call them as beasts with human bodies”. Last words of a 13 year old Laisham Devika (an IED blast victim at Pukhao, Imphal, on 15 Dec 07) will move even a stone hearted man. She said, ‘Kaka Ima laktribra, amukta koubiyo ei ing-e’. When translated, It means uncle, has my mother not come, please call her, I feel very cold.

Women in Manipuri society always had been and are big contributors in social economy and society building. Ima (mothers) market, at Khwairamband Bazar, in the heart of Imphal is a shining example of the same.

It is an all women market where businesswomen of all ages (twenties to late sixties) are seen manning respective businesses. Their enterprise will outshine any self empowerment (of women) study by a management group. Every item required in a house hold (sewing needle upwards) is available there.

To make them self dependent, small kitchens are also run to cater for tea, snacks and Tiffin for working Imas as well as visiting customers. Entry in the market and dealing with these business women gives the customer a familial (motherly or sisterly) feeling.

Manipuri women are much more forward in their thought, action and deed but still glued to native way of life. Women empowerment commenced with culture of haute couture in 1920s, in Europe, but Manipuri women enjoyed the same much before.

First Nupilan of 1904 against the British order was the beginning of women power display in Manipur. The bungalow of Captain Nuthall (tutor of H.H Raja Churd Chand Singh) and Dunlop, (Assistant political agent) was burnt down twice.

Unable to find out miscreants, then superintendent of state Mr Maxweil ordered temporary restoration of Lalup (where men had to work 10 days for state, without compensation, in a working cycle of 40 days) in Imphal town. He also ordered the bungalow to be rebuilt by the locals, as reprisal, including supply of material required. Aggrieved by the unjustified orders and to safe guard the prestige of their men folk the women raised their voice till revocation of the order.

Second Nupilan, in 1939, was against unscrupulous businessmen who were smuggling rice out of Manipur with the connivance of rulers. These activities reduced the availability of rice for locals and the prices soared up.

Again aggrieved by the deprivation, of staple grains, the brave women forced the rulers to stop export of rice. These women did not put down their struggle despite harsh physical measures adopted by the British rulers. The day was 12 Dec 1939 which is being remembered as Nupilan Numit every year, a salute to those brave women who saved the people from dying with hunger.

It can be called a third Women’s War, but against their own men folk to save them from being addicted to liquor and drugs when Government permitted unbridled licensing of liquor shops, in 1975, to boost economy of state. This movement was implemented uniquely.

The women used to get together, wait for their men on streets and roads with mashals to dispel darkness of night (that earned them the name of Torch Bearer or Meira Paibis) and punish the erring men. Liquor shops were forced to be closed down by the women.

These actions strained the government to mend its policies and also saved a number of men folk from dangers of being liquor and drug addicts. The struggle is still on. Today Meira Paibis are found all over the state and are a voice to be reckoned.

After the bomb blast in Khurai Lamlong Bazar in Imphal; President of the Lamlong Keithel Fambi Apunba Lup RK Dhanabati Devi said, “It is true that there was a time when Meira Paibis and militants worked in tandem.

But at that time we thought that militants’ demands were justified and we supported them, but now we realize our mistake. These militants have turned their guns towards us. There is no question of supporting or aligning ourselves with them. They (militants) are our enemies and they should be finished”.

These are powerful words by a lady, who has the power of trinity i.e. a mother, a sister and a companion. These are the women who look after their little ones so well from Prenatal to Postnatal stage that Infant Mortality Rate, in Manipur, is at par with Kerala, 19 per 1000, where women literacy rate is 86% as compared to 48% in Manipur.

This is the proof of pragmatic prudence these women possess. It will not be wrong to quote UNICEF report about Manipuri women that says, “Active participation of women in public affairs can and does contribute to better conditions for children and society at large”.

Public scream is clearly evident in various sit in dharnas, protests and bandhs by people of all ages, against the useless acts of militants in Manipur. During 43rd raising day of UNLF, its president had accepted that the outfit has distanced form the masses and it needs to be restored.

So let us join hands with our mothers and sisters and lend them support to rescue the misguided youth back to main stream for better, safe and sunny future. Let us save our children from unnatural and untimely deaths either due to harsh conditions in jungles or due to interfactional fights or fights with SF.

Let us have a society where gun culture is replaced by progress culture and Draconian AFSPA is repealed for ever from everywhere. LONG LIVE Imas of Manipur!


* Geoffery contributes regularly to e-pao.net . The writer can be contacted at jaey_geoffery(at)yahoo(dot)co(dot)in . This article was webcasted on 17th January 2008.



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