TODAY -

Plebiscite: Freedom of Speech, Opinion & Debates First

Dr. Robbinson Moirangcha *



People in Manipur have for long been in this atmosphere of mortal fear where they are afraid of taking even a deep breath lest the sound of breath should trigger AK 56's fire be it from the militants or from the security forces.

From their apparent laid back attitude, it is as if they had become accustomed to this life of living at the edge. But then, look deeper, and you will come to learn that the laid back attitude is nothing but a petrified surrender: the best way to be alive in the situation.

Quite an Evolution at work here. You end up being the game bird of militants or the security forces at regular intervals, though. Over the decades we have been seeing the continuous retrogression and wilful destruction of the state in terms of education, infrastructure, economics, social mores, administration, law and order and what not.

All we people have done is watch passively whatever is happening in front of our eyes. Is it because we do not consider the state or its people ours? Or because we have become so numb that we have stopped feeling the pain? Why do we still keep mum? How much is enough?

People need to see that we are now in a modern civilization where freedom is our birth right. We are entitled to our rights to freedom of speech, debate, discussion and action. No one has a right to deny us our due rights.

We should not get accustomed to this asphyxiating environment where the gun trotting anti-social elements or the high-handed security personnel give a damn about our rights. Because that means for us to cease living our lives with purpose, meaning and dignity.

Do you see any meaning in a life lived in perpetual fear with all our fundamental rights snatched at gun point by the dacoits?

The petrified people need to gather up their courage to stand up for their due rights. They need to be let free to express their opinions, share them with each other, participate in debates and discussions, with no fear for their lives or their loved ones' or for a dozen demand letters that will deprive them of their hard earned money.

They themselves need to take all decisions related to them through democratic means after open and free discussions and debates. These decisions should no longer be left to the gun wielding elements with little light of prudent education or dictated by other state or non-state machineries that we do not recognize.

No one has a right to silence people by force and then claim to be speak for them. This is fundamentally wrong. People know that Indian Govt does not prevent people from speaking their minds, sharing their ideas or debates even if they are anti-national.

The militants, however, have been using their brute force to silence people against voicing any opinions unfavourable to their interests. On the other hand, they use the lure of money, the same brute force and other remunerations in kind to make certain people to espouse their "ideology" and portray them as representative of the common people. The point is that when people are not even allowed to have their opinions, how are they going to give a verdict?

Hence, the talk about Plebiscite is very immature and very self-serving for the militants. It rather looks like a plain farce. Moreover, the militants need to prove that they respect and would respect people's verdict. When they do not have any respect for people's rights and aspirations now, how can we assure ourselves that they will respect people's verdict?

Hence, the first step to Manipur's Resurgence is to restore the common people's rights to freedom of speech, opinions, debates and discussions, and self-decision making. This can come only if the militants across the state guarantee the people their due rights and give a commitment to stop all sorts of intimidation, extortion, harassments and killings and help the people in the state's reconstruction.

The Meira Paibi Associations, Student Organizations and Clubs can take the lead in this direction. The Resurgent Manipur Initiative (http://groups.yahoo.com/group/rmi_manipur/) is ready to be a moral and intellectual partner in the movement.

Once the people are guaranteed their right to freedom of speech, opinion, debates and discussions with no fear for retribution from any quarters whatsoever, people can deliberate on all issues and finally come to the crucial question of what course of action we should take from now onwards so the state and people can catch up with the rest of the world in the pace of civilization.

An RMI Feature: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/rmi_manipur/




* Dr. Robbinson Moirangcha contributes to e-pao.net regularly . The writer can be contacted at dr_robbinsonmoirangcha(at)yahoo(dot)co(dot)in
This article was webcasted on March 30th 2010.


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