TODAY -

Time for Intelligent & Non-Suicidal Modes of Protest

Dr. S. Pahel Meitei *

14-hour general strike imposed by Joint Committee on Inner Line Permit System (JCILPS) demanding implementation of ILPS  :: July 14 2015
14-hour general strike imposed by JCILPS demanding implementation of ILPS on July 14 2015 :: Pix - Shankar Khangembam



Haven't we, the people of Manipur, had enough of these bandhs, general strikes and curfews? At least I think I have. There is uncertainty writ large all the time. We can never make even short term plans: chances are high they will be failed. We have to make do with immediate plans.

We spend most days of the year under house arrest imposed on account of certain issues or the other, the range and variety, and seriousness, or pettiness, of which continue to baffle me. For example, when a girl has been raped (and/or killed), the people vandalize the house of the accused and banish the entire family from the locality.

While one element of insanity is the way other innocent members of the family of the accused are forced to pay for crimes they did not commit, the other element is the way people form a JAC and block national highways demanding arrest and punishment of the accused! Why can't they file an FIR and let the law take its own course?

Similarly, a man is found knocked down death by the roadside, and people come out in hoards to block national and international highway demanding arrest of the unknown culprit! These people hold the Government and the entire state to ransom to find the culprit, unknown even to them, within an arbitrary time frame!

Is there any logic in these cases of mob violence and disruption by people who so frequently take laws into their own hands? Then, we have frequent and prolonged blockades of the national highways, the economic lifelines of the state, by tribal student bodies because they have grievances not addressed by the Government.

But, why should the entire population of the state suffer because of faults on the part of the Government? It is as if all other people than the aggrieved are the culprit! Is it that other states don't have problems? No. There is no state without problems. However, no other state is like Manipur. Not even Nagaland. Why? That is what we should introspect.

Too many senseless people are taking laws into their own hands at the slightest and funniest excuses and subjecting all other people to needless disruptions and harassments. The question is whether we should allow these people to ruin the state still further.

A vast majority of the common people are daily wage earners, vegetable vendors and shop keepers who lose their day's earnings if they remain idle for the day. Businesses have to come to standstill. Black marketers rule the roost and sell items of day-to-day use at exorbitant prices. Offices remain shut.

What are the implications of these prolonged general strikes and curfews for the state's economy? Schools and colleges have to remain closed and the education system of the state has been suffering. What are the implications for the careers of students?

The mad elements among the bandh enforcers are so stupid and indiscriminate that they do not even spare the media and the healthcare workers and damage ambulance vehicles transporting ill patients and women in labour. Many patients from far-flung areas cannot get timely medical help because of the bandhs and many die unnecessary deaths.

Many public properties are destroyed during the general strikes against the inaction by the Government or against certain Government policies without the realization that these properties do not belong to the Government but to the people from whom the Government collects taxes to buy those properties. We can target the government machineries, not properties, but why should we make everyone pay for the government's sins?

How many decades have passed by with Manipur always on the boil this way and with people almost always under house arrest? How many more decades do we want the common people of Manipur to suffer? What are the implications for the future of the state? Are we helping ourselves with constant bandhs and general strikes? Who are we hurting?

Is it not a collective suicide for all of us in the state? Why don't we launch a non-cooperation movement against the Government? Instead of harassing the hapless general public, why don't we be courageous enough to confront the police, politicians and bureaucrats and prevent their free movement? Why don't we keep them under house arrest?

Why don't we excommunicate them? By the way, why did we elect them as people's representatives at the first place? Why don't we punish the corrupt and inept politicians at the time of elections? Why do we keep forgetting their sins at the sight of crispy 500 and 1000 buck notes and allow ourselves to be bought at the time of elections?

When we ourselves take bribes from the politicians at the time of elections, we automatically forfeit the right to complain against corruption or inaction on their part. We cannot dodge responsibility for the entire mess. We have our dirty hands in all the crimes committed by the political and bureaucratic class. We encourage them and glorify them when they make quick big black money and when their unaccounted financial worth sees meteoric rise.

Who made financial worth, rather than intellectual worth, an indicator of one's success in the society? We did. And, who cares more about the means than the end? No one does. Now, why do we want everyone to commit suicide just because we think crimes are being committed against us?

Suicide is not the solution for any form or degree of injustice meted out to us. High time we looked for and adopted intelligent, less-disruptive and non-suicidal modes of agitation. We should stop resorting to bandhs and general strikes for every grievance, genuine or silly. Make bandhs and general strikes illegal modes of agitation. But, first of all, let us come to our senses. As of now, we are a bunch of mindless people who operate at the level of impulses and reflexes.

NB: The JCILPS should take upon itself the onus of ensuring that non-locals are not harassed recklessly. Harassing non-locals will be a self-defeating step and a blot on the popular movement. We should not forget that Manipuris are living in every city of "mainland" India and that they can become targets of heightened hate crimes. Videos of brutality against non-locals by some mad elements are floating on the internet. That can only bring disrepute and counter-brutality against the Manipuris by the "mainland" Indians. If we have to make ILPS a reality in Manipur, it should be pursued tactfully with intelligent planning and with no collateral crimes against the non-locals. You can never win if you turn the rest of the world against you.


* Dr. S. Pahel Meitei wrote this article for e-pao.net
Thw writer is MD (Medicine) Consultant (Medicine & Critical Care) Advanced Specialty Hospital, Palace Compound, Imphal East and can be contacted at dr(doT)pmsoibam(aT)gmail(doT)com
This article was posted on July 21, 2015.


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