TODAY -

Rhetoric-ing on insurgency
- It's playing with us, too -

Heigrujam Nabashyam *



Insurgency anywhere in the world – Asia, Africa, Latin America – has a primary cause: deficiency of political legacy in the system. This is a serious challenge to the political system. And finding a solution to the issue democratically, may need structural changes in the system.

The causes of the deficiency may vary from case to case. It may be caused in a system where there is an unfair and undemocratic representation of the ethnic composition of a multi-ethnic society in the governance of the State. Or, there may be a serious unequal distribution of the wealth of the State among the different regions.

Or, there may be an acute sense sub-nationalism in a region which is caused by socio-cultural incompatibility between the major and a minor ethnic group or groups. Or, perhaps the historical experience of a region may find it incongruous to remain within the system unless a supra-national reconciliation is brought about democratically, etc.

Insurgency in Manipur is one such cases that has a direct link with its recent past : the brief post-British period when Manipur became a constitutional monarchy until it was merged into the Dominion of India on October 15, 1949, following a disputable agreement signed between the Governor of Assam representing the Indian Dominion and the constitutional Maharaja representing Manipur, at Shillong, then capital of Assam.

Much has been said and discussed about insurgency in Manipur since the last few decades by scholars and pundits, and one may not go into it. However risking a clich้d view of sorts, one may recall that the present phase of insurgency which had started in the 1960s, has found its roots in the armed movement led by Hijam Irabot, the revolutionary icon, who undoubtedly fought for the democratic rights of the people both before and after the independence.

However the present phase of insurgency in Manipur has taken a marked-turn : the question of right to self-determination of the people of Manipur. It is quite a paradox that Manipur, a land as old as the Christian era should become a district ruled by a Chief Commissioner, the moment it merged into India, showing how great the ignorance on the part of the Indian rulers were about Manipur, who looked at Manipur with a suspicious eye.

The issue of insurgency has been much complicated now. There has not been a day that the media have not carried an insurgency related news. Its effects has permeated down to all aspects of our life – social, economic, political and what not! The longer the issue perpetuates the more complicated and damaging it would be for Manipur and the Indian Union as well in the changing geopolitics of the region. This is self-destructing.

During the last Manipur Assembly session, when an opposition member raised the issue of insurgency, the Chief Minister had stated in the House that for the insurgents "to come to plebiscite is a sign of a good beginning", and that he would see what he could do to make a beginning.

The statement of the CM was encouraging in that there was a clear hint that the government would recognize the issue of insurgency on the political level. It was believed that the state government would initiate a political process to make an honest and serious attempt to tell the Government of India at the highest level that the issue of insurgency in Manipur had to be taken on a political level for a possible breakthrough, in the interest of the people.

But surprisingly in a sudden reversal – without any sense of guilt or responsibility of what he had said in the Assembly Mr Ibobi Singh, said at Khongjom on Khongjom Day that he was ready to discuss with the insurgents about the complaints that the people of Manipur are being discriminated and treated as second class citizens and that the idea of Manipur becoming independent from India is far beyond possibility.

This commonplace statement of O. Ibobi Singh, the CM has given an illusion to other communities and governments that insurgency in Manipur is a matter of communication gap between the insurgents and the Indian nation that can be sorted out.

What is amusing is the CM raising such asinine questions instead of trying to create a healthy political atmosphere on such occasion. Acknowledging the idea of plebiscite as a possible means to resolve the issue in the House, the CM has already sent a message to the insurgents and the public, as well that the issue would be resolved politically.

By after a month the CM seems to forget that he is the leader of a popularly elected government and that constitutional and democratic propriety do not allow him to reverse something he had stated in the House, without rhyme or reason like he had done at Khongjom. The issue is no joke; thousands of life have been lost in the conflict. Mr. Ibobi Singh, must understand that he cannot play with the issue in such manner, because resolving the issue or failing to make a breakthrough would shape our immediate future and the posterity.

Perhaps there may be personal reasons for Mr Ibobi Singh to take the U-turn. It might show him as a super-nationalist in the eyes of the Congress High Command that may ensure his continuation in power. But in the bargain Manipu gets stuck in a time warp, whereas the CM gets engrossed in counting unprecedented development funds from Delhi – remember, even WikiLeaks came out with the information: "10 per cent cut by the CM of Manipur development funds"!

9 years has been a long time – an American President however great he is, has only eight years to serve his nation – and yet we still hope for some honest attempts from the chief minister to create a healthy political atmosphere in his tenth year.




* Heigrujam Nabashyam [ Singjamei A/C, Manipur ], contributes to e-pao.net regularly. The sender of this article can be contacted at nheikrujua(at)gmail(dot)com
This article was webcasted on May 4 2011.


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