Beyond the tragedy of Tharoijam

Arif Sajad *

With an incident of Tharoijam, has shocked and created a climate of fear in people of state, particularly on minority community, which inject feeling of insecurity, deprivation, betrayal. The recent incident is a challenge to social fabric, communal harmony, peaceful coexistence, diversity in unity, spirituality, morals, values, toleration and liberal values of Manipur. This articles will not give views on allegation to victims as vehicle theft. The case has been initiated and let it be decided by honorable judiciary. This articles will insight to what is root cause of the incident, what should we do for mitigating such incidents.

Mob lynching of minority on allegations of vehicle theft has been happening very frequently, once a year. So we need to look beyond incidents and searching for root causes. Many innocents has becoming a victim on false allegation. This allegation becomes a common sense and tools in Meitei community in justifying any atrocities, hatred towards minority.

The causal factors are searched through analyzing, observing, criticizing and synthesizing different ideologies, reasons, arguments. We all are giving reasons on mainly few factors such as stereotyping, stigmatizing, political, economic, sociological perspectives. And in giving solution of these inherent issues of our state, we conclude on the role of governments and it’s failing machineries. The solutions should cover all stakeholders and factors involving in creating such incidents.

In my perspectives, the problems of mob lynching is mainly associated with banality of evils in our society and glorifying hatred. It means that we are becoming a habitual evil and ordinariness of such activities in our society. It is a sign of downfall humanity from our society. In Hindu mythology, the worth of life is described as ‘even Lord Brahama can’t birth as human when he attempt to do so for several times’. In case of mob lynching, they seems to punish an anti-social person, however the reality is that they are destroying their characters, human values, religious. Mahatma Gandhi said, ‘hate the sin, not the sinner’. A man of civilized society is symbolized by kind, merciful, love, dutiful and reasonable rather than brutal, rude, violent.

The role of government is minimal in a civilized society. Strong state is only essential in barbaric society. We want a strong governments, means that we can’t live ourselves with values, moral, logic, rational and reasons. We are animals, who needs externals hand to live in a better way. But the purpose of creating a state is only for two objectives – security of people and welfare functions. The latter function would be covered in latter part of this article. The incident of mob lynching poses two questions in people.

Firstly, people are asking, Can our state provide security of our life? Is Manipur a ‘failed state’? A ‘failed state’ is defined as a state whose political or economic system has become so weak that the government is no longer in control. It has been shown clearly in Tharoijam incident. The police whose main function is attributed as maintaining law and order and protecting people, have enjoyed the violent drama of killing a man. Secondly, ‘Would minority faith in this system and function?’ doubts Minority. This system is ruled by majority community starting from bottom to top. This partial character of state police has quaked in trust of public office, which is over represented by majority community.

I thank present government for carrying out timely actions against those who are involved. Instead of complaining to government’s failures only, we have also to introspect our perception towards someone, groups, community. The real factors of happening such inhuman incident are allowing to breed of hatred, stereotype against one community in our society. Such incidents would be minimized only when we are self-examining ourselves that how much we can tolerate one another.

In case of Tharoijam, the causal factors is of how Meiteis watch on pangal. It is not consequence of one day, one weeks, and one years. It is products of decades. The real culprits behind the incident are Meitei’s intellectuals (They should not be identical with intellectuals of Manipur because the latter would emphasize on characters of Manipur), Meitei centric organizations and media house.

The intellectual of Meiteis are always connecting pangal with the problem of illegal migrants in every debate, discussions and writings. They establish linking of trespasser with pangal. They can’t classify difference of outside Muslim and Pangal. It causes to develop a common sense to Meitei that Pangal are responsible for illegal migrants of Bangladeshis, Tripuris. The issues of vehicles theft, drug smuggler and anti-social activities have been primarily associated with Pangal from their floating arguments.

They should not relate it with any specific community. They should search, what are the cause of such problems in our society. It would provide a genuine solutions. Instead of emphasizing on going to depth understanding of problems, their faculty of mind is utilized perpetually in arousing hatred and making a stereotype against a particular community. In developing a harmonious and integral Manipuri society, those intellectuals and scholars who understand the diversity of Manipur, uniqueness of each and every communities is very must necessary presently.

When I observe most of organizations existing in Manipur, I can conclude that there is no single organizations which represents diversity of our state. The most, probably all of organizations are community based organizations. This argument is not related with those organizations which are openly worked for their respective community. My argument is on those organizations which are claiming themselves as Manipuri organizations, however their structure, functions and ideologies are limited only on one community.

They are mainly Meitei centric organizations. These are main pressures groups of Manipur which participate in articulations of people aspirations and influencing on policies making of government. They do represent only interest of Meitei community. They lack involvement on other issues of other communities. It may be one of the reason for increasing mistrust among different communities of Manipur. In a diversified society, organization has vital role in constructing a peaceful coexistence and harmonious society through becoming a space for exchanging and flowing different interests, ideas and views.

These organizations should act as an interface of different community. It will be very helpful in forming a collective and sharing interests. At present, however, we can’t see such organizations in Manipur. We need either to form such organizations or rectify the challenges and problems in existing organizations. The freedom of press is fundamental of a democratic state. This right allows to create an environment of informative society. Media can shape people’s thinking in a directions. So they have responsibility both in creating an aware or a polarized society.

In the case of Manipur, people of minority feel that media make a polarized society among communities. Minority complaints that media house is biased, partial and unethical. So the neutrality and impartiality of media house is questionable. It is not only a case of misinformation. In every incidents occurring between Meitei and other community, dissatisfaction on reported news and analyzing columns, shows are perpetually felt.

Instead of digging out the roots and authenticity of increasing drugs users, thieves, smugglers in Manipuri society, media house are giving verdict as pangal are thieves. They don’t go to depth of problems. The way of portraying Pangal in films, dramas, sumang lila might entertain to audience, get claps and cheers, but it lead to give negative image of Pangal. These negative images are generalized, becomes prejudice about Pangal, consequently which has imprinted to minds of many innocent viewers.

It has helped in developing today’s problem i.e. stereotyping. On the other hand, the aforesaid anti-social activities is directly proportional with the conditions of society or community, education backwardness, economic deprivation and consumerism effects. No parent like his son to be a thief. There is none on the earth who does not want to pursue for good life. Among the different communities of Manipur, the condition of pangal is worse than others. Here, the role of governments is important.

The maladministration of government, deprivation of pangal in governance, consequently alienations from consumerist societies are responsible for such development of underdevelopment of pangal. The defunct, delay, defer, divert of government’s welfare functions impacted enormously on vulnerabilities sections of people. These vulnerabilities sections are the main beneficiaries of social welfare program. Minority sections is belonged under category of vulnerable sections of societies. Their economic condition is miserable.

They struggle for basics necessities of living. So they can’t finance on improvement of standard of livings. They cannot afford cost of educations in private. And most of governmental institutions are paralyzed. The welfare program has been generally implemented ineffectively. What would they do? They remain in trap of poverty. These conditions of minority has been aggravated by corruptions, nepotism and collusion inside the system. Such unlawful activities inside system impact miserably on minority. Before late, the government should deal on these issues – welfare of minority and eradication of corruption, nepotism, collusion which is flowing in the system.

The other main reason is progressing consumerism in an unbalance manner with spirituality, ethics, societal values and individual moral. It ends an individual in compromising their basics human values for the sake of worldly things. It is clearly occurred in our society. To live in present society leveling with others, a man need so many things starting from branded shoes, smart phone to vehicles. It all has increase the cost of living. On other hand, other than pangal community, the political power, economic strength, employment opportunities, educational advancement of other communities in Manipur are fairly good. It leads to polarization of development.

Then uneducated, poor, undeveloped, dusty Pangal youth fall either in drugs or anti-social, illegal activities with compromising tenets of ethics, religious and conscience, to live at par with materialistic society of Manipur. We should press brake on consumerism. If we do not so, disparity among people would be increased and consequently would produce frustrated sections of people.

We have to asses ourselves before pointing towards others for becoming downtrodden and deterioration community. We have to change our traditions and conservative way of life. We are living in a democratic country. We are equal with others in eyes of constitution, laws and regulations. We have to articulate our demands, needs, aspiration through different channels. In this functions, especially role of representatives of Pangal in assembly are very important and crucial. They have to act in accordance with aspiration of minority community. Their role and functions in legislative assembly is more valued than other members. However they are presently passive in function.

People always feel that they are representative of themselves, not for us. They are not substantial representatives. They are just procedural representatives. They could not articulate, compose and demand the aspirations & interests of minority people. Until and unless, we do not elect right person, we would become an orphan in our state. In a representative democratic state, role of organization is very important. As every people are not directly involved in policy making of government, organizations are the main pressure group which is influencing in government’s policy making. Their main activity is associated only with interest articulation and integration.

Unfortunately, Pangal community does not have any dedicated, inspired, committed, and consistent organization which can effectively, diplomatically forms public opinion and pressurize to government for fulfilling of people’s interest. They are also in trap of several challenges. They are not ideologically strong. Their functions is also inconsistent and uncertain. Their functions and ideologies is changed in time correspond with leader of organization.

Another main challenge to them is scarcity of resource. By all these challenges, they become a politicized organizations of few Pangal Brahmins for exitence. We all have responsibility in living of an organizations with integrity. However it is a good sign to us that some organizations of Pangal like DAMMS, PFI, AMMUCO, AMMSO, PSO, is starting to work in a more committed and consistent manner in interest articulation, pressurizing government and developing minority’s aspirations. They need to work together with consistency of ideologies and functions.

A coherence society needs sharing history, culture and customs. In culture and customs, Pangal and Meitei are extensively similar. However, we could not see so much overlapping between two communities in history. It does not mean that we do not share our history, contributions and pains. In my opinion, history is a literature which is highly politicized. In our school textbook, we learn only how Pangal came in Manipur. We do not learn contribution of Pangal. We do hear negligible amount of stories in participations of Pangal at Manipur Darbar.

Even in major events of history like Anglo-Manipur war, Nupi-Lal, statehood movement, the participation and contribution of Pangal is not written in our history textbook. It is also one major source of mistrust between two communities. It would distance among us. So in a state like Manipur which exists extreme diversity, inhabited by different communities and ethnics, our school textbook should cover about cooperative, sharing, contributive among different communities, rather learning divisive lesson. It will birth trust, love and sharing from class room. They are futures of Manipur.

Among communities of Manipur, cracks and rifts are growing at great pace. Tribal does not believe valley people, Valley people consider the problem of Tribal like a piercing to them. The rift between Meitei and Pangal has widened. These all would create fragmentation of Manipur into pieces. It would plague in the progress of development and prosperity. If we do not act today, to blog this bleeding in veins of our Manipur, we would not able to heal wounds.

In my opinion, there are three important actors which can heal such wounds. Firstly, the roles of government is vital important. They should always remind prosperity and peace is closely interlinked. Secondly, Meitei, as a majority community of state, should act the role of guardian of other communities, rather than thinking themselves as competitor with others. Meitei should not synonym with Manipuri. When they act as a Meitei, they are just a community. To become guardian, they should pursue accommodative characters. Lastly, others communities should also think themselves as Manipuri, rather obsession with their community.

The most important requirement in Manipur society is to develop a feeling of Manipuri. The future of Manipur lies on them, not on any community.

*** The expressed views are personal.

* Arif Sajad wrote this article for
The writer can be reached at arifsajad786(AT)gmail(DOT)com
This article was posted on September 22, 2018.

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