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Monday, November 14, 2011

A Reverting Act of Violence

Sadar Hills
Part 2

                     Born on the 1st of August, the 2011’s economic blockade turned out to be a history in the making. A shame on the credibility to mark it as the world's longest economic blockade violating the individual's right to live. An unconditional defeat we have submitted ourselves between the agitators and the Government.

                     Many an open discussion had been set but both the sides remain unmoved to their decisions. Crores of wealth had been lost including government buildings, private vehicles and goods etc. And along with these millions included four priceless lives.

                    The Meiteis too consist of various communities. If all the community claims for a separate land than where will Manipur be? What is the point in considering ourselves as a brotherhood altogether without the sense of its diversification? The SHDDC stated that the Sadar Hills district is for effective administration and not for communalism or separatism. But do the Nagas believe so? No Naga villages (e.g Yaikompao, Daili Village etc.) in Sadar Hills area is seen supporting SHDDC and we still see "Kuki Land" painted on the walls of Kangpokpi (Thomas Ground area) from the past 15 years and no one cares to wipe it out. Right that the soil is mixed with the blood of our forefathers but also true that this land doesn’t belong to one individual alone. Our forefathers would never have wished for a day like today.

                     The freedom of Manipur was not set in the name of communities and every Manipuri won it together. True that the good built this world and the bad fought for greatness. Our parents struggled so that we get enough clothes to cover our skin and stay safe from the cold and the sun. We now have not only sufficient cloths but enough fun and pleasure that we started running after the wind and the fire just to quench our thirst, no matter what it shades.

                    Manipur is an integrated land of the Manipuris. The spirits of our forefather outstretch every corner of Manipur. Topographically the land may be divided into hills and valleys but not the brotherhood. The reason to this hills and valleys is nature's call. We are the one who inserted people in between these landscapes.

                    The government of Manipur passed the ADC Bill in the State Legislative Assembly session on Friday, the 10th October, 2008 after a discussion session by various elected legislative members which includes D.D Thaissii (Tribal Development Minister of State), O. Joy Singh (MLA), Dr. Ng. Bijoy Singh (MLA), Dr. I. Ibohalbi Singh (MLA), R.K Anand Singh (MLA), Radhabinod Koijam(MLA), Dr. Khashim Ruivah (MLA), Th. Devendra Singh (Law & Legislative Affairs Minister), V. Hangkhalian (MLA) and O. Ibobi Singh (Hon’ble Chief Minister of Manipur) presided by the then Hon’ble Speaker Dr. S. Budhichandra Singh. After omitting the words “the Hill Department of” in Section 29A of the Bill and after clause by clause consideration the Manipur (Hill Areas) District Councils (Third Amendment) Bill, 2008 was passed by the house. The Hon’ble Speaker gave the valedictory speech and adjourned the house since die at 4:15 pm.

                     Though lately the passing of the bill led to the conduct of the long pending elections of the District Council due to which the development of hill areas had been hampered. Mr. D.D Thaisii added that the Bill had no procedural and technical lapses with the necessary amendment to be taken up later. Good that the bill was passed in the interest of the hill people whose right of franchise was deprived for a long time.

                       On a consultative meeting with 17 civil society organizations on the 17th of Oct, 2011 the SHDDC did tried to come up with a breakthrough on their struggle for the Sadar Hills district. But the discussion came up with no particular resolution. The meeting showed no sign to end the blockade but to continue with it and reach out for actions until their demands are made before the 10th State Assembly Election scheduled at the beginning of 2012 by the Election Commission of India. Ngamkhohao Haokip, president of the SHDDC observed that if the government fixes a date for the declaration of Sadar Hills District the economic blockade might automatically be called off. The meeting was held at the newly constructed Mini Secretariat building at Kangpokpi which is yet to be inaugurated. The SHDDC remained firm on the government to inaugurate the Sadar Hills district before the said assembly election.

                       On the other hand at the same day the Jiribam District Demand Committee (JDDC) in its executive meeting came up with various action plans to be implemented in the coming days in its demand for a separate Jiribam district. In it included the pan down strike by the Jiribam Sub - Division Govt. offices from the 19th to 23rd of Oct., 2011. This was followed by the non co-operation movement from the 24th to 29th in the ADC complex offices. The JDDC is not sparing the railway sectors too by deciding to boycott any railway's activities in the state. Hunger strike, sit in protest and burning effigy of Th. Deben Singh (local MLA) and O. Ibobi Singh (Chief Minister) were the other sign the JDDC had showed previously.

                     The fourth public hearing by the Committee on Re-organization of Administrative and Police Boundaries, a committee set up by the Government of Manipur was held on the 21st of Oct., 11 am at the Chief Secretary’s Office, Secretariat’s South Block at Imphal. It is a well known fact that the government of Manipur is relying on the committee as the last resort to decode the mysteries of solving Sadar Hill’s problem. With all hopes on the report of the committee the faith of present Manipur lies sealed on the research and ideologies of this group of people. Or, is the Secular Progressive Front (SPF), the ruling political alliance of Manipur buying time by resorting to the committee's report?

                     The talks on 23rd Oct. between the representatives of the Sadar Hills Districthood Demand Committee (SHDDC) and O. Ibobi Singh lead Govt. of Manipur brought forward positive results with almost 80% of the differences agreed upon from both sides. This is the seventh time the talks are being held and the first with direct representatives from SHDDC. The talk was to continue on the 24th of Oct. but the representatives of SHDDC's didn't show up stating that the committee doesn’t trust the government's proposal to fulfill their demands after the 10th Manipur Legislative Assembly Election and when a new government comes to power. This clearly proves that the present government is backing out, playing safe on account of the 10th Manipur Legislative Assembly Election, 2012. The common people predicts: the O. Ibobi Singh lead SPF Governmentwill never risk to inaugurate Sadar Hills District before the elections as it will have serious consequences to his political party to come to power in the coming election. The politicians will politics, as easy as we have seen. But for the Sadar Hills Districthood Demand Committee "hope" is the only hope to stay alive. Stand hard rather than leave with nothing for the people supports their calls. But the way of achieving goals through blockades and violence only makes the many innocent people of the state harder to survive. The people are going to stand against SHDDC if they don’t find a different route. For SHDDC: You are not politicians.

                       Alternative Arrangement: It is the United Naga Council’s (UNC) demand for the arrangement of a separate governance for all the Naga inhabitant areas in Manipur to the Central Government of India. The demand began following the NSCN (IM)'s Gen. Secretary Mr.Thuingaling Muivah planned to visit his birth place, Somdal Village in Ukhrul District. But he was blocked by the government and the larger population of the state. Later the Nagas of Manipur made a decision to disconnect every relation with the State Government and asked the Centre to make an alternative arrangement for the Nagas. Mr. Muivah's visit to his birth place was acceptable but never to forget that he is an active NSCN (IM) cadre which is a banned outfit in the State of Manipur and no ceasefire agreement exist between the State and the IM's. The NSCN (IM)'s ceasefire agreement with the Indian Government doesn't cover Manipur. And looking through this context the UNC and those demanding an alternative arrangement sure supports the cause of NSCN (IM) in Manipur openly. Such mentality shouldn't be tolerated and must be declared outlaws with the Central Government's mandatory consent leaving aside their weaknesses on NSCN'IM. The UNC now spear headed the counter economic blockade against the SHDDC stating that the Sadar Hills district should not include Naga inhabitant areas. Like exploiting Muivah before trespassing into the soil of Manipur such outages should be rooted as early as possible before it threatens the peace and harmony of the state. After all these involvement in the state's government affairs of ADC Election and administrative boundary issues is the UNC's not violating their own ideology to disconnect any relation with the state government? These are their alternative ways to stand against the peace and progress of the state.

                   Though endless lapses exist in the administrative and governance the political stability is gaining momentum. To see through the light of broken pieces of political rampage the present Manipur was never expected when the then political situation was traced back. The people will always live under certain dissatisfactions to any government. But it is also true that we cannot ignore the lapses of the government though we acknowledge the truth of certain dissatisfactions.

                   The ruling SPF Government still has a lot to deliver though only a few months left for election. Their five years is yet ending and various task yet to be fulfilled. Of how clean and clear they sum up their flags and mess to leave for the new government heading their way next year the time has come for the people to judge the government. Their flag-ship projects are still yet to be completed and fully open for public and government. But the government is not leaving any stone unturned to showcase their work and progress. Also to remind the people before they surrender their ministerial powers for the 10th State Assembly Election. The government now gives more weightage on inaugural and public functions rather than issues like price rise, effective education, economic blockades, killings etc. Will they leave Sadar Hills clean or in a mess as it is? This is the biggest of all questions the citizen of the state now has.

                     Looking at the map of the purposed Sadar Hills District published in the local dailies the Sadar Hills boundary shows no administrative purposes but community boundary. Compared to the United States of America the internal boundary of India is a messed up one. Some even looks like something. Here in Manipur the Senapati District encloses the valley districts and Jiribam looks like Andaman and Nicobar Island in the Manipur-Assam border.

                    Re-mapping is required but for a smooth and effective administration. Not only the fact that 54 villages under the Sadar Hills were added to other assembly constituencies but also true that various new villages are coming up in Sadar Hills with self priorities and boundaries. Take the villages: Oinam Kabui Khun, Maibam Lokpa Ching Village, etc. to have an effective administrations if its district headquarters were Senapati or Tamenglong. Villages like Sadu Chiru, Tinghai Khunou/Khulen, Tuikhang Aimol and its chain of villages in that hills near Tiddim Road has to report to Senapati for any legal documentation which is 70-80 kms away rather than Bishnupur or Imphal which is just 10 to 20 kms. Most elderly people in these villages die without even reaching Senapati in their only lifetime. Few even don't know how Senapati looks like. They know very little that they fail themselves even to be guided by their leaders. Such demarcations will only harmper a smooth administrative and progress in these villages. If Senapati and Sadar Hills is based on Naga - Kuki inhabitants than they are both ethical. And if district curving is based on the extent of mountain ranges and historical monopolies the administration and mutual understanding between the various indigenous groups in the state will be worsen day by day. The transportation and communication factors should be the first priority the modern leaders should consider before any piece of land is demarcated. Construction of a state highway from Sadu Chiru to Senapati is impossible forever before this world ends.

                     The people of the hills too had their opportunities. It is wrong that they didn't get that values and respect the valley enjoys. They had their options too and it’s not the inhabitants of the valley who forced them to live by the hills. It was the hills they lavished and opted against the valleys in the old. Frontal and choices were also made in that past too. Whatever the history was it is still changing for the good and preference of the people of hills. It would be misleading to the younger generations if the hills don't get their share of bread and shelters. Everyone enjoys equal share if the population, revenue and various subjects are measured. It will be impossible for any leader, any government to fulfill the demand of each people.

                     The hills of Manipur won't be as emotional as today had they got all the possible grants from the government. Leaders leading the hills should check the traffics of the government and not monitor for self possession only. A leader is a helper to those he leads. There may not be any student in the school but the government still supplies with the same supplements on the measurement of the false register entry by the school authority. The Rs.3000/month private school's teachers still guide the students better than those covered under the Government's 6th Pay Commission. Hill or valley no students from government institutions are seen in top academic positions. It makes us smile recalling back the government teachers of the state protesting to implement the 6th Pay Commission to their salaries. Are they capable of what they get? Never was any promise or commitment brought forward while demanding the salary hike.

                     Every sector has its dark of the moon. Even the holy devotees can't be left out. Not to mention the god man doing god damn deeds. If you wish to buy metal roof sheets you will get it in a better deal in the hills granted by the government. Some still remain misguided by the concept that the valley leaders wiped out their shares of bread and roof. The priest of the hills had now grown rich. We see them flee in the valley busy buying plots for their valley's leisure home.

                     An awareness campaign in the neighborhood comes to light only in the newspapers after it was done. Many an opportunity is slipped away unreached to the common people and we in the dark are forging communal emotions.

                     The Manipuris of the hill are Manipuris too and no one can take away this birth right from us. We all should be proud to be a Manipuri. In culture, pride and history we are not less than the rest of the world. We have our own land, culture and worship from our forefathers and we are not ‘katcha’ to any in this world. The name, fame and respect we get in our land are the highest in one’s life.

                       Will the reforms we now make be the need of our children when they grow up? Economic blockade makes some people richer and richer day by day. Petrol runs out in oil-pumps but never in the other market. Why?

                      There is no point to be guilty about ruling the land of fools. India was on war even before the Britishers came. They only made India united. Hinduism and Christianity were the last comers among the Manipuris of Manipur. Who are we? Stop blaming the other community for all the political and administrative failures in your independent community. Place yourself on the position of the government and give your consent without disappointing any sides. Given the example of the government quarters at Langol and Lamphel, the surrounding areas of Manipur Riffle's 2nd Battalion Campus etc. illustrate who is capturing whose land? Many an illegal occupancies in the valley, most of them know very well but their ignorance ignores it. Who will responsible if another Sadar Hills or Naga-Kuki incident gets birth? What have we learnt in 40 years?

                    Maharaja Leishemba Sanajaoba, the titular king of Manipur submitted a memorandum to the President of India, Smt. Pratiba Singh Patil with copies of the same to the Prime Minister of India and the Governor of Manipur stating about the illegal interference of the state government in the administration of the hill areas (Sadar Hills) of the country under the Article 371 C (2) of the Constitution of India. It also highlighted the provision of the Article 371 C's power conferred to the President of India who can direct the State in the administration of the hill areas. Along with it demanded for a necessary clarification if the Union of India has abandon the people of Manipur to their own fate.

                      On 27th Oct. K Ranjit Sing (Minister of State, Works) visited Senapati to inspect the work progress of the newly constructed mini secretariat which the government of Manipur had planned to inaugurate on the 2nd of Nov. by the Union Home Minister, P. Chidambaram. On his return for Imphal Mr. Ranjit and his team were stopped by the SHDDC agitators at Kangpokpi. The SHDDC said the motive behind was to have a talk on the Sadar Hills issue but Mr. Ranjit and his team experienced the other way that day. With reinforcement of 35 teams of Manipur police commandos from Imphal the security personals cleared the passage and brought the Minister and his man safe to Imphal.

                      The incident involved more than 200 Manipur Police commandos, fired more than 200 rounds of teargas shells and around 600 live rounds of bullets. Another 100 rounds of mock bombs were also fired in Saparmeina and Keithelmanbi the same day to disperse various mobs while the reinforcement was heading for Kangpokpi. Describing the act of T Ranjit Singh and the Govt. of Manipur as barbaric and illogical the SHDDC declared the 27th of Oct. 2011 to be marked as Anti-People's Day every year. They also imposed 48 hrs. of general strike/total bandh in all the hill areas of Manipur from the midnight of Oct. 31st to the midnight of Nov. 2nd and indefinite total bandh in areas under Sadar Hills with effect from the midnight of October 31st.

                     On Monday the 31st. of Oct. a litre of petrol cost 200 rupees (MRP Rs. 65.34) and 2000 rupees (MRP Rs. 415.50) for a domestic LPG cylinder in the black market. On that 92nd day of the SHDDC’s economic blockade a Memorandum of Understanding was signed between the Government of Manipur and the SHDDC presided by the Chief Secretary Mr. D.S Poonia, Govt. of Manipur at Chief Minister's Secretariat, Imphal. The MoU stated:

1.    The Government of Manipur has agreed to upgrade Sadar Hills as full-fledged District at the earliest after submission of report of the District Re-organization Committee.

2.    (a) The Government of Manipur has agreed for creation of the following Sub - Division/TD Block by bifurcating the existing 3 (three) Sub-Divisions as under:

- Kangpokpi to Champhai (HQ: Champhei) and T. Vaichong (HQ: T. Vaichong)

- Saikul Saitu to Saikul (HQ: Saikul) and Island (HQ: Island)

- Gamphazol to Saitu Gamphazol (HQ: Gamnom Saparmeina) and Kangchup Geljang (Kangchup Geljang)

        (b) Inauguration of the newly proposed 3 (three) Sub-Divisions will be done within the month of November, 2011.

3.  The Office of the SDO Champhai will be located at Kangpokpi temporarily till the construction of its Office building is completed at Champhai.

4.    The Govt. is agreeable in principle for creation of Lhungtin SDC Circle within Saikul Sub-Division.

5.    The State Government of Manipur has agreed to withdraw all the legal cases against SHDDC leaders and volunteers and other legal involvement over the agitation.

6.     In view of the hardship faced by the people of Manipur and in consideration of the commitment of the State Government, the SHDDC agree to suspend the ongoing economic blockade with immediate effect.

                  With regard to the above understandings the SHDDC suspended all its agitations including the 48 hour general strike and indefinite total bandh. But the faith of Manipur still remains unknown. The Government of Manipur still has UNC and various Naga organizations on its path.

                   On the other side various question arises. Is the MoU between SHDDC and the Government of Manipur worth 92 days of economic blockade? Why on the day of Kut and not Ningol Chakouba? What does government have for the opposing sides? Politics is not that easy.

                   P. Chidambaram came and left as planned. The SHDDC is now quite for some time. But a new chapter of UNC and various Naga organizations begins. With an already existing counter blockade from August 21st. the UNC is gaining momentum with a three day total bandh in the Naga inhabitant areas of Manipur from the 3rd of November.

                   The government’s withdrawal of 48 FIRs registered against the SHDDC only makes UNC free to practice any violence with 9 FIRs already registered till the 31st of Oct. With a losing hope for a peaceful Manipur in near future the people of the state are in great sorrow. Expecting that the SPF Government will never take any decision which will hamper its strategies for the upcoming 10th State Legislative Assembly Election it is an appeal to both the supporter and the opposition of Sadar Hills to come up with a peaceful means to end the issue as soon as possible in the interest of the peace and progress of the State Of Manipur.


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