‘Why should Manipur remain in India?’

via Tarun Vijay published on May 17, 2010

Kamminlung Singson was sitting next to me on a four-hour hopping flight from Delhi to Imphal. He had one year of training in a short-term programme of Indian Army and was on his way back home to Churachandpur, about 60km from Imphal. He was supposed to travel by train up to Guwahati and then take a bus, but the highways to his hometown, NH 39 and NH 53, had been blocked by Naga rebels for almost 30 days at that time, so he had to somehow arrange for an air ticket. Not many Manipuris can afford an air ticket, he said sadly.
He was casual, in a cotton bermuda with blue strips and a brown, wrinkled T-shirt. I looked at his footwear – he was wearing coloured slippers. He was looking out of the scratched window pane when the plane took off.
We started chatting.
How’s is the situation, I asked?
Very bad. UGs are ruling and people are suffering. Imphal to Churachand Pur ticket has gone up to Rs 150 per person, which was just 40 rupees a few months back, he said.

UGs? Who are they? Underground rebels, he grinned at my ignorance. There is a severe food scarcity and no petrol or diesel is available. One has to be in a queue for one or two days to get 20 or 40 litres of oil.  He stared at me as if asking who the hell you are so oblivious of the facts that are tearing apart the lives of Manipuris.
I know some of it, I said sheepishly, hence on my way to Imphal. OK, now that you have taken an armed training with the Army, would you be serving the Indian forces or join the other side? I collected myself and asked.
It was a mischievous question, just to poke him and get him speaking on his motherland. He opened up.
I will fight for India, that’s my motherland. But not many in my village think so. They feel India doesn’t care for them. He showed me a news clipping from a south-based daily which made horrendous reading – it was about the death of a Manipuri woman due to starvation. I didn’t find it mentioned in any other newspaper or channel.
The correspondent of the newspaper Iboyaima Laithangbam had filed an Imphal-datelined report:

IMPHAL: Takhellambam Komberei (70), a diabetic, died of starvation and lack of Medicare owing to the ongoing protest by tribal students in Manipur. While going to her home at Jiribam from here on May 5, the bus in which she was travelling was stranded on Highway 53 as a result of economic blockade. She and other passengers managed to buy rice at an exorbitant price of Rs 200 a kg from the nearby village. But soon nothing was available in the village market and they started eating roots, herbs and green bananas found on the mountain slopes. The old woman then started trekking up, but collapsed and died by the roadside.( http://www.hindu.com/2010/05/13/stories/2010051358060900.htm)

Why was Takhellambam Komberei’s death, a painful end, ignored by a Muthalik-obsessed media? A Mulayam prank or a Lalu joke and statue devis and the Hindu terror talk to please the Arab variety of secularism overwhelms the media, but nothing on the pains and anguish of those who are living under a constant threat from anti-national ultras, have yet to see a railway station after six decades of independence, bad roads, almost negligible infrastructure, 38 insurgent terror groups always breathing down their necks to extort money and yet proud to be an Indian?

Kamminlung tried to be as nice as possible 30,000 feet above the ground level. But I could see it was difficult to control emotions for him.

How many Indians would be caring for Manipur or Arunachal or Nagaland, inspite of all those patriotic songs? How many of us would be able to tell what kind of name a Naga, a Mizo or a Manipuri love to wear?
Or distinguish their faces and not to call them all as ‘chinkies’?

How many of our elitist or government schools tell the children about India beyond Kolkata and the culture, names, social dynamics and problems of  our border region and northeast in particular?

How many newspapers from mainland India sent their correspondents to report what’s happening to a people who have been cut off from the rest of India, except through the air route, for the last one month?
It’s our hypocrisy and a sham nationalism that makes distant areas like Manipur feel distanced from our hearts too.

Manipur faces a crisis that’s communal in its colour and anti-national in its import.

Insurgents, blatantly anti-Indian, control the social and political life. They work on unhindered communal hatred. In Kashmir, Hindus were driven out by Islamist jihadis and nothing happened? In Nagaland and Manipur it’s the Christian and jihadi insurgents stifling the Hindu masses and their voices. The real fight is to get maximum number of non-Christians either converted or annihilated. It’s as simple as that. It’s a foreign-aided political colonialism in the garb of religious fervor.

Manipur is on their target for its Vaishnav traditions.

And how? The China-fixed insurgent group Peoples’ Liberation Army (PLA) has given notices to all non-Manipuri Hindus to leave the state by May 31.  Its slogan is – unless they sever all ties with “Hindus, Hindi and Hindi speaking people’’ their target to have an independent Manipur can’t be achieved. The best protection for a non-Manipuri resident is to display Islamic half-skull cap, because none of the Muslims have ever been targeted or asked to leave, no matter which state they come from. Thousands of Bangladeshi infiltrators have entered Manipur, but these so-called puritan rebel terrorist groups, one of them an Islamic one Peoples’ United Liberation Front, having its headquarters in Hebron, Nagaland, with NSCN-IM have kept mum about them.

The entire north east is in the grip of an unprecedented wave of Christianization with the help of foreign money. Recently on May 5, a huge Jesus statue was unveiled in Arunachal Pradesh said to be the tallest in Asia, in a region where Christian population is less than 5%. But still Kohima can’t have a Gandhi statue as the NSCN opposes any Indian icons in their region. So is true about Manipur where under threats from insurgents, neither can the national anthem be sung in schools nor can it be published in school textbooks. Even Republic and Independence Day celebrations are held only in government offices under tight security and wrapped up in minimum possible time. No school or private institution is allowed to have a function on such occasions leave aside hoisting the tricolor. The government employees, traders and politicians have to pay a part of their income to insurgents as a routine manner. Even the government contract funds must be shared with them and almost 20% of each such contract is distributed in cash to various anti-national outfits. What a joke of governance: terror groups are sustained on state funds!

Surely, there is an answer to ‘why Manipur should remain in India’- why shouldn’t it? Manipur is quintessentially  India and India is incomplete without its hoary Radha Krishna traditions, tribal richness and Meitei culture. But the inconvenient situation demands self-introspection as an Indian people and state.

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