Reflection : Our situation - Suspense and thrilling

Lisham Henthoiba *

The seven misled youths recounting their ordeals to mediapersons at Manipur Press Club on January 08 2013
The seven misled youths recounting their ordeals to mediapersons at Manipur Press Club on January 08 2013 :: Pix - HL

During our college days in 2003 when we were beginning to accustom to mobile phones, a very popular SMS circulated among us (the youth) on globalization with sarcasm on the death of Princess Diana in Paris. The SMS was 'An English princess with an Egyptian boyfriend in a German car driven by a Dutch driver crashes in a French tunnel while being chased by Italian press reporters on Japanese bikes, treated by Portuguese doctor with Brazilian medicine. This SMS is written by a Pakistani on a Finland phone smuggled by Afghanistan via Dubai.' The SMS constructed the term Globalization magnificently, arranging and relating places associated with the incident and its aftermath, though sarcastically. This particular SMS is revived in our situation in a report posted on 18th of November, 2009 in CNN-IBN. The report is filled with thrill in every line and every word and I feel a need to quote it almost entirely to avoid any dilution of excitement it generates while referring the situation.

To quote "A CNN-IBN exclusive report has discovered that the collaboration between the Naxals with the North-East insurgent groups runs well beyond the supplies of arms from the latter. The Naxals also get on-spot help from the NE insurgents.

In Bengal, they are being assisted by 50 hard-core rebels from Manipur's insurgent group, People Liberation Army, who are training tribal villagers living inside these forests.

The Maoists acquired more weapons from illegal arms-suppliers in south-East Asia. The weapons were originally meant for the now-decimated LTTE. The arms were supplied by an elaborate network that is run in North-East India by the Naga insurgent group NSCN (IM). The arms were smuggled in through two routes: Burma and Bangladesh. The arms include 850 AK-47 rifles, 4000 small weapons and several hundred grenades. They also include cheaper Chinese copies of weapons such as the American M-16 rifles and Russian Kalashnikovs - AK-47s and AK-56s. Maoists are also trying to establish links with the ULFA. They want ULFA to supply arms from Yunnan province of southern China through the insurgents in Myanmar."

This report is packed with thrill. And if we attempt to view it from the lenses of government's famous mantra which echoed while inviting and welcoming armed groups for talks and dialogue will always be multiplied with excitement and humor. We can see this with another report published in Seven Sister's Post in its headline on 5th January 2013. To quote "Sending out a strong message to insurgent groups operating in the country, including the Northeast, the Centre on Saturday indicated that its patience was running thin and that it was no longer interested in entering into dialogues with underground outfits.

The cryptic but stern message was delivered by joint secretary, MHA (in-charge of NE states) Shambhu Singh after holding tripartite discussions with members of the A'chik National Volunteer Council (ANVC), a militant group based in Meghalaya's Garo Hills region which has been on ceasefire since July 23, 2004.

"Let me be very candid and frank with you. We (Central government) might take a decision that we shall no longer hold talks with any militant group," Singh told reporters.

When asked if the proposed plan not to hold peace talks with militant groups would be applicable only for militant groups based in the Northeast, Singh said, "militant groups operating anywhere…the decision is in the pipeline."

On the reasons which made the government decide not to hold talks with the insurgent groups, Singh said, "The issue is that…. every time you talk to one group, a small remnant of the group breaks away and again continues with its illegal and prejudicial activities, and then thinks that it will be given the same moral high ground and the high table to sit and discuss and put across its demands which are basically non-existent." "They better surrender…" Singh concluded."

A serious and critical assumption that is reflected in the above report indicates the term ceasefire, dialogue and surrender used as a definite and fixed terms and processes where only two parties exist, government and armed groups. It is an enormous miscalculation when we overlook the large population associated with the term which has effected and affected by any program which are loosely used in the report stated above. And it will be equally wrong to assume the terms and program to function the way it is designed and made us believe how it will be.

The indication as reported will have a different meaning if we consider the whole picture of the words used, such as ceasefire, dialogue and surrender. It has to be understood from the perspective of the people affected by any program of the government to bring 'peace'. And perhaps the terms dialogue, ceasefire and surrender will probably have a very different and interesting meaning against the prescribed and assumed definition as provided by the designer.

Was it forecasted in the ceasefire between GOI and NSCN-IM in 1997 that down the line after 15 years people will question the designated camps of NSCN-IM found in the unaffected territory of the agreement? The interesting question is what actually is ceasefire and dialogue as against the definition provided in the formal understanding.

Won't it be more meaningful to give definitions from our experience, what actually are the definition of surrender, ceasefire and dialogue? This will be perfectly validated with the headlines of our daily local newspaper of 8th and 9th January, 2013 on the issue of surrender. On the 8th January 2013 of TSE the headline broke an interesting investigation titled - Job promise turns 'prelude to surrender drama'. To quote "Amidst rising suspicion about security forces enacting surrender dramas, a startling allegation has come from Heirok.

Seven youngsters of Heirok Part II were allegedly taken away by Assam Rifles with the promise of offering jobs. But it turned out that the promise for job was just a strategy to lure the youngsters and force them to take part in a surrender drama in the name of 'KYKL-MDF'.

Meanwhile, local clubs, Meira Paibi organizations and parents of Heirok have strongly condemned the attempt to hand over the seven youngsters to Assam Rifles as UG surrenderees."

Another news was attached with the heading, which was a statement issued by PRO IGAR (S) against the report and it says, The 42 Assam Rifles authorities did not approach any locals for joining insurgent groups for peace process/surrenders, said the statement adding that all cadres brought by KYKL (MDF) leaders for the ongoing peace process are verified at multiple levels.

Youths namely N Herojit (21), Th Milan (25), M Premkant (21) N Johny (21), E Muhindro (20), M Thoiba (21) and M Oken (25) approached 42 AR for surrender. However, after preliminary investigation at battalion level they were not found to be part of the group and thus these youths were returned, maintained the statement. Stating that the allegation was aimed at defaming the Assam Rifles and interrupting the ongoing peace process between the Government of India and KYKL (MDF), the PRO IGAR (S) statement assured that cadres are being enrolled after deliberate verification process by AR and police authorities and only genuine cadres will be brought forward for the ongoing peace process."

The next day Deputy Chief Minister Gaikhangam quickly made his statement that Government would inquire into alleged 'surrender drama' so that necessary action can be taken up against frauds involved in misguiding youths.

Every word employed in the reports has a magnitude of impact. The show of 8th and 9th January is perhaps the tip of iceberg. The larger picture is the way we are being governed in a situation where rational minds are failing to address the issue as it is multiplied. This entire big picture is truly difficult to swallow knowing the fact that it is simply not a Hollywood film script but rather a testimony of a situation.

But there is an important question that is clear and loud in the tears of widows, in the fright of orphans, in the sorrow of parents and in the fear and anxiety of the affected audience of our situation which traumatically resembles a thrilling and suspense type of Hollywood movie. So what should we think our possible future is…..?

* Lisham Henthoiba wrote this article for The Sangai Express
The writer is Doctoral fellow, Dept of Political Science, Manipur University and he can be reached at lisam_henthoiba(at)yahoo(dot)com
This article was posted on January 14, 2013.

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