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E-Pao! Opinion - Red Stars Glows In Nagaland

Red Stars Glows In Nagaland

By: R.K. Shivachandra *



There was a time the go easy Manipuri truck drivers got their pent wet when crossing the hilly terrain of Nagaland on their Imphal bound journey during the evening. It was not the Manipuri truck drivers alone but also the bravest stray dogs dare not to venture on the roads of Kohima if the clock ticked 5 in the evening. Everyone in this town would prefer only to remain at home while reassuring their door was safely locked especially when the winter season set in. There was panicky only panicky all around as the darkness engulfed over the enchanting Capital Town of the State. This was just the story in Kohima a few years before. However unexpected things always happened and today the beautiful township wore a different look especially in the evening, as it is observed that people strolled along the streets and exchanging Merry X-mass greetings one another till late in the evening in a tension free mood. People were seen humming the famed Christmas song 'Jingle bell jingle bell' in a joyous and festive spirit and shopkeepers remain their shop open till 7 P.M. This has indeed turned out to be a priceless gift from Santa Clause the popular Christmas father on the eve of the auspicious Christmas to the people of this beautiful land who are predominantly Christians. The traffic police who always use to return home early during the previous days, had to remain static on their respective points directing the busy traffic till late in the evening. Kohima town, which is home to a large population of government servants and numbers of business communities have come of age as far as commercial and other socio-economic avenues are concerned.

Nagaland Civil Secretariat in Kohima
Many private apartments and buildings seemed to have been converted into mini markets or shopping arcade to accommodate many aspiring businessmen. The look of the market and its structural lay-out thus expanded in an impressive way. All the passenger buses plying in an around the town are all ablaze with blue color to claim uniformity and becoming more systematic. An impressive response have been reciprocated from the side of these buses owners in the recent move as they let their vehicle plying till late so as to make the new system more feasible. Without their services, it would be a problem for ordinary businessman and customers to come to the new rule and convincing about walking the gradient of the hilly roads in the night, which was once a hot bed for many anti social elements. Voluntary Organisations and law enforcing agencies in the State, too hand in hand extending maximum efforts to avoid any untoward incident, which may cause mayhem to the general public and shopkeepers while returning to their respective homes. Many such volunteers found to be prying with hawk eyes to deal with any awkward situation if arises. On the part of the Nagaland Police, they are evidently sparing no efforts in executing their duties with a massive vigil in and around the town. This has provided the general public with a sense of security and amply shows that the old time is gaining ground in Nagaland and time changed for the better.

The Landscape of Kohima War Cemetery. Backdrop is the "Boro Bosti", the second biggest village in whole of the Asia
For al these reasons, the Christmas in this year seemed to have a special meaning and such joys came about a mixed feelings in the mind of all. On the top of all these, the Prime Minister of India who had visited Nagaland just a couple of months ahead of the Christmas made this festive season more lively and materialistic as there are numbers of economic packages let flourishing in the state akin to that father who is not afraid to invest any amount to his obedient son. The hundred of cores Rupees dropped by the Center made Nagaland the centre of envy to her other sister States. 'This is just only the beginning. Center will give more grants' said by one Mr.Kevi a businessman in Kohima. Besides, the proposal of launching a Sainik School and few professional Institutions in Nagaland came about like a sweet song for the public. The majestic Nagaland Police Head Quarters building perched atop a hill in Kohima becoming the pride of every Naga and perhaps the biggest Police Head quarters in the whole of North Eastern States.

A European couple paying tribute to their relatives at Kohima War Cemetery
The beautiful red stars that glowed above every house in Kohima, as a sign of welcoming to the Prince of Peace seemed to have increased its number this year as compared to the fewer stars last years. The twinkling stars shines throughout the nights on the high acclivity of the hills in the stillness of the night would inspire even the one who had never written a poem in life to reach for a pen just in an attempt to bring down the inexplicable feelings on the paper. It is enthralled and an adorable night indeed. However such red stars are the utter dismay to the uniformed personnel in Manipur and erecting a star in any of the valley home to welcome the Son of the God could invite trouble as being branded to be the nexus of underground.

Such messages heralded far and wide in Nagaland and even the innermost town like Tuensang and Mokokchung too open their market till late hours. Dimapur the commercial hub of the State was once a fertile ground of many anti-social elements and news of crimes and other acts of robberies were reported during the festive season but such cases are quiet seldom this year. People who had an appetite for marketing could loiter around the town and visiting the shops till 9 P.M. It is all wonderful development taking place.

The great Epitaph of Kohima War Cemetery dedicated to the heroes of war
However in Manipur the festive season doesnt seem to bring any good news for the people. Things seemed to remain as it is. There were reports of tolling many precious human lives in and around and the advent of festive season marked with the brutal murder of Baby Elizabeth. The public demanded to bring the culprit to justice, but this goes unheard. The 16 suspects rounded up for interrogation have been freed on bail, which was evidently a ploy to mollify the widespread public anger. This is followed by lot of cock and bull stories of Mr. Ibobi on revealing the identity of the murderer, which was used as a tactic to buy the time and let go the chapter with the wind only. This way the Chief Minister has become another treacherous figure.

In the business front, there is not pleasant smile visible on the faces of the businessmen. The market was literally turned out to be quiet lean and thin. December otherwise the season for the businessmen had nothing much special to offer this year for many shopkeepers on the stretches of Paona Bazar seemed to have trundle out from their respective shops and basking in the Sun, which would have been otherwise busy man-hour during the hay days. The State Govt. employees too had their tale of woes. Over the years there is no improvement in all the fronts and 'DEVELOPMENT' came about to a standstill.

Epitaph in memory of AZ Phizo and the graveyard
It is beset with wonder as to whether our MLAs have paid any heed to such public grievances. They never cared of it. While many of their counterparts are striving for development in their respective States, they are out here frantically busy in the "Musical chair" game only to clinch the power so as to perform what they please. Some of them gone for a 'Taekwondo bout' in an unknown hotel room elsewhere in Kolkata in an attempt to retain the power and remain glued to their chair of power. And they are our public leaders. At home there is nothing plausible on the part of the opposition bench in the politics. They are old actors so to say Purana khilari, and this time the director asked them to change a different character only otherwise they are the same men. They have no time to think for the progress of the society and public reduced to a mute spectators for their rights and so called franchise have legally been sold with crispy 500 Rs. Currency to the hypocrite politicians at the time of the Election. It is akin to the Jamindar Raaj existed in the obscure parts of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar of India where the poor farmers were forced to work in the field only to feed the masters. The farmers never revolted and succumbed to what they are. It is all hope against hope in Manipur and there is no any ray of light visible in the far horizon either.

However it is always said by the wise men that one should be optimistic. Yes, that is all what is been left out in the empty basket now. The year 2003 has already set its feet to go down the history like a defeated King. He had presented a lot of unwanted things to the people of Manipur and this refuses to accord a ceremonial farewell to him by the people. We will have to welcome the New Year 2004 with a changing mindset from the corrupt souls to the worthiest son and daughters of this soil, which is possible only when we change ourselves. Until Manipuris whosoever claim to worth their salt make it habitual to stand together against the menace, peace and development will continue to be bought at an exorbitant price and you know well that the price will escalate for every passing day.

In the hell the hottest place is reserved for those who remain neutral - The Bible


R.K. Shivachandra is a social worker based in Imphal, Manipur.
He contributes regularly to e-pao.net and can be reached at rkshiva2@rediffmail.com.

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