Ibobi’s Manipur today resembles an Orwellian dystopian allegory and the world may witness the inflaming Manipur to re-read the Orwellian ‘Animal Farm’ and one thing would be certain: the end is likely to be the worst entrapping in the self-inflicted world of dogma and delusion.
Ibobi’s idea of Manipur is the idea of challenging the idea of “Nagalim” operating within the “greed” ideological subtext of grabbing the land of the hill tribals as the dominant class is precluded by law from buying the tribal lands. Ibobi shrewdly made his chauvinism work by manipulating the ethnic-socio psychological perception of the Meiteis and Kukis through disseminating rabid anti-Naga anecdotes and propagandas projecting the idea of “Nagalim” as “anti” to the idea of Manipur and Kuki identity.
Such dehumanizing political dogma can only be enforced in a “police state” like Manipur. Perhaps, the law that adjudged the lawful mode of the tribals’ (Nagas’) protest in the hills as “unlawful” becomes silent and ceases to operate the moment it comes to the lawless mode of protest of the dominant class (Meiteis) in the valley. Manipur has always been at its height of lawlessness and hypocrisy.
Law and democracy have two different sets of meanings in Manipur, one for criminalizing the democratic voice of the hill tribals and another for legalizing the lawlessness of the dominant class in the valley.
Manipur state as an institution itself is lawless and it expects the hill tribals to be lawful, but exonerates the lawlessness of the dominant class in the valley. Judiciary itself is a mere spectacle, more of an extension of the whims of the lawless executive. Manipur is the only state on earth where the notion of lawfulness and legality can be constantly maneuvered to suit the anti-tribal dogma of the dominant class.
The one classic example is the ongoing agitation of the Nagas which erupted in protest against the undemocratic creation of Sadar Hills and Jiribam districts slicing the Naga ancestral areas without consulting the Nagas in violation of the four MoUs signed between the Nagas and the Manipur government. UNC launched the ongoing indefinite peaceful partial shutdown along the national highway in protest against the same. However, against all democratic norms, Ibobi announced the further creation of seven new districts and arrested the top two UNC leaders by coining the term “economic blockade” to criminalize the Naga political issue.
The Nagas in intensification of their agitation instantly rejected the seven districts as illegal, null and void ab initio as the move results in carving out of their ancestral territory reducing the Nagas to a mere minority in all these seven districts and dubbed the same as nothing but an invasion upon their ancestral land, identity and culture. No doubt, the unprecedented formation amounts to redrawing of Naga boundaries without any constitutional jurisdiction as in violation of Article 371C of the Constitution and the Manipur Legislative Assembly (Hill Areas Committee) Order, 1972 as Manipur Government did not even consult the Hill Areas Committee (HAC), much less the affected Naga villages.
Meanwhile, Manipur government instigated counter-protest in the valley to unleash ethnic and communal violence against the innocent Naga civilian passengers in the valley, sponsoring desecration and vandalization of Churches, daylight robbery and looting of the belongings and luggages of the innocent Naga passengers. One Church at Pangei was also set on fire and more than 70 private vehicles were also vandalized, destroyed and burnt down. Hundreds and thousands of innocent Naga civilian passengers were physically assaulted, stranded and held hostage for days as transit captives not permitting them to leave Imphal valley. However, none of the communal rioters has been booked.
Far from being an isolated political act, Ibobi’s anti-tribal (anti-Naga) policy is deeply entrenched, systemic and all pervasive. Best continuing example of it would be the last year’s three anti-tribal Inner Line Permit (ILP) Bills and the present non-functional HAC, let alone the existing Manipur (Hill Areas) District Councils Act which is another legislative machination to render the special provisions of Article 371C of the Constitution redundant.
Manipur seemed to spare a ray of hope last year though in the symbol of Manipur Tribal Forum, Delhi (MTFD) signifying awakening of tribal consciousness and unity of the hills. However, the fact that today the Kuki brothers are celebrating the undemocratic creation of the seven districts at the cost of other tribal groups proved how illusive the notion of tribal unity in the state of Manipur is.
While the Nagas are already intensifying their agitation to “defend their land to the last man standing” by announcing peaceful picketing of all governmental offices with effect from themidnight of 31st December, 2016, the Meiteis, i.e. the dominant class, for the obvious reasons are celebrating as a political triumph over the Naga brothers. However, both the Meitei and Kuki brothers committed a common mistake in this tacit alliance as the two victims feel gratitude to their own oppressor for this gesture. Being entrenched themselves in the psychological pattern of “Stockholm syndrome”, they both are now forging identity with the oppressive regime of Ibobi forgetting that they too are the “common” victim of it. Ibobi with a stroke of pen has already destroyed and ripped Manipur into irreparable pieces but they direct their wrath against the “other” victim, the Nagas.
Be that as it may. Kuki brothers will gradually realize as Ibobi’s insidious political motive slowly unfolds. Prediction in politics is a stupidity, but don’t tell me by the way that this is a prediction. The momentum among the Meitei brothers is already in motion as is evident to pursue next for the tag of tribal status. This is likely to be followed by a new maneuver for expunging Article 371C from the Constitution. The rest is for the historians to record.
The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and need not reflect, agree or disagree with the views of The News Mill.