Society & Lifestyle
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The Manipur Question
|by Ananya S Guha|
On the eve of Rahul Gandhi's visit to Imphal, there was a bomb explosion injuring two security personnel. This has happened many a time in the North East, protesters call a bandh or boycott when a government dignitary visits. This is mainly called by militants or student protesters, and happens in the J& K as well.
Any central government representative is anathema to recalcitrant groups, which shows a largely placed grouse against mainstream government. This is the off shoot of a general disgruntlement against both centrifugal and centripetal forces.
The situation is complex, and instead of working out solutions, we exacerbate more tension by visit of ' dignitaries ' who pledge development. In the process the common man finds himself again in volatile situations, or for that matter security personnel.
The United Naga Front has demanded a solution to the Naga impasse, which has reached a deadlock and is inextricably connected with the destiny of Manipur which has a large Naga settlement. The UNF is demanding territorial rights for the Nagas in Manipur outside the purview of the Manipur government. The Kukis want a separate state and the Meitis are fiercely opposed to the division of the state on such ethnic or administrative lines. This was well borne out in 2001 as Manipur witnessed resistance in a do-or die manner, when the Centre almost capitulated to the demands of a greater Nagaland.But the Nagaland issue, despite a cease fire by the militants for around thirteen years, still remains insoluble, especially because of the sensitive question.The destinies of these two states are interwoven because of inter and intra tribal concerns, as these communities also want self assertion like say the Bodos.
This makes the problems of Manipur singularly complex and heart rending, given the brutalization of societies, plethora of ultra groups, the vitiation of any semblance of law and order, the trappings of the common man in militarist ghettos; whether it be the army or the militants, and then the AFSPA ( Armed Forces Special Powers Act). This is a tragic situation, and state goverment after state government have just rested on uneasy laurels, refusing to face the acerbic truth. Their venality have only worsened matters, and allowed grass roots corruption.
Despite this Manipur consisting of myriad communities has done remarkably well in matters such as sports in the international levels, as we all know.
However visits of leaders, especially before say elections, have to be made with a sense of commitment and empathy, understanding, good will, not simply importing bagful of promises- which no one takes seriously. Manipur is a beautiful land, dotted with a melange of colours, the hill and the valley does not divide, it unites the state into bubbly and effervescent hues. But the people are lacerated with deep wounds for over three decades. Dignitary after dignitary visit the state, but the travails of an Irom Sharmila, epitomizing the travails of the people go unheeded.
Political visits do not ring any sincerity.
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