The Highway Ghosts

Seram Neken *

Protest on  killing of Ningombam Gobardhan at Wangjing Hodamba Lampak, Thoubal on February 08 2013
Protest on killing of Ningombam Gobardhan at Wangjing Hodamba Lampak, Thoubal on February 08 2013 :: pix - HL

Nagaland Government must play a constructive role in the unity and harmonious existence of north eastern states in order to move forward among the other Indian regions.

Neither a single individual nor a civil body in Nagaland has so far condemned the cruel incident. Nagaland government has remained silent on the recent brutal killing of truck driver Ningombam Gobardhon and missing of its handyman. It has again and again failed to discourage the perpetrators on the national highways running within its territory. Had the victim happened to be a resident of Nagaland, would it remain a silent spectator?

To lead a composite state like Manipur is not a smooth job. Manipur Chief Minister surely faces more trouble than the chief ministers of other north eastern states. Manipur has been home to multiple communities since times immemorial. In reality, anyone who is truly communal will not survive in Manipur for a single day, as the state needs a balanced maneuvering among the various ethnic groups. No doubt, there might be certain tendencies which appear to be communal at times on the part of the state leadership.

The efforts to satisfy one group may dissatisfy the other. However, such a tendency has never been intentional and surely withers away with time. None will agree that Manipur government is communal. How can a government composed of various community representatives be termed as communal ?

The presumed rationale behind demanding the Alternative Administrative Arrangement by the NSCN (IM) turns out to be that Manipur government is communal and is responsible for underdevelopment of hill areas. Hence, the so called Nagas’ demand for an Alternative Administrative Arrangement outside the purview of Manipur state arises. If the NSCN (IM)’s allegations are true, then hill representatives in the legislature as well as in the government may be charged for the same. Because, hill peoples are adequately represented in the legislature and in the government, and the majority of administrators at high level belongs to the hill peoples. It is time to find out the basic factor for underdevelopment of the hill areas and work towards balanced development. The NSCN (IM), its frontal organizations and the central government representatives are required to be convinced that hill peoples are themselves responsible for its underdevelopment.


The ongoing parleys on Indo-Naga peace process are highly crucial. Manipur needs representatives who are well-digested and well-conversed on the history and issues of the land. Government officials representing the state on these talks cannot be construed as competent state representatives at this vital stage. Moreover, as they hail from outside the state, they certainly lack knowledge of history and its people. The ongoing talks will affect not only the so called Nagas and the Meiteis, but also each and every community of Manipur. Suggestions for inclusion of unbiased and knowledgeable persons from the civil society organizations to participate in the talks as state representatives need to be considered by the government. It will be a wise decision for the government to include representatives of the civil society other than administrators most of whom hail from outside the state.

Not only the hill areas, but also various remote villages in the valley face discrimination and imbalanced development. There are also many villages in remote valley areas which are utterly undeveloped. These are caused due to insincerity and weakness of the representatives of those particular areas. Instead of blaming the government for underdevelopment of such areas, it will be wise for anybody to blame the MLAs, local leaders, contractors, and administrators belonging to those areas.

There is no question of exclusion of hill people by the valley dwellers in practice. Instead we should blame the selfish leaders, administrators, contractors etc. hailing from such places. All will certainly agree that a horde of well-to-do hill people residing in the valley have been reaping the fruits in the name of remote hill peoples. They are excluding their own families, their own brothers and sisters. In my previous articles, such discriminations are termed as “Exclusions from Within”.

In fact, the state government has been sticking to unity, integrity and harmonious existence of Manipur state. It has been for all communities, by all communities and of all communities.

The recent allegation of Nagaland Chief Minister that Manipur Chief Minister is responsible for suppression of Nagas is meaningless. Instead of painting communal colour on Manipur government and instigating so called Nagas of Manipur, the Nagaland chief minister is expected to extend co-operation to its neighboring state. Looting and arson of vehicles, assaults and killing of drivers have been a regular happening on the national highways running within Nagaland state.

Individuals, governments and civil society bodies of Nagaland state have, on many occasions, remained deaf at such acts of highway ghosts. It is the ardent duty of the Nagaland government to give protection to the Manipuris passing through its land. A time may also come when vehicles of Nagaland passes through Manipur to access the south and eastern Asian countries. Nagaland state is strategically important in order to bring peace, economic prosperity and development to Manipur state, and vice versa.

The relations between the two neighboring states of Manipur and Nagaland need to be cordial, if the two states wish to move forward in development aspects. Whenever the two states are coordinating themselves, they will prosper. Otherwise, they will be far behind in competitions among the states of India.

* Seram Neken wrote this article for Hueiyen Lanpao as part of "The Voiceless Speaks"
This article was posted on March 04, 2013

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