Halloween party ideas 2015

By P. Liangmai

Most of Manipur has been religiously following the events in the Naga areas vis-à-vis the decision of the Manipur Cabinet opposing the visit of Th. Muivah, General Secretary, NSCN to his village and a few other Naga areas. The events have developed into a major point of confrontation between the Meetei dominated Government of Manipur, supported by Meetei civil societies and organisations on the one side and the Nagas on the other side.

What has escaped the popular perception of the impasse—that it is just between the Nagas and the Meeteis—is that a lot is at stake for the whole tribal population of Manipur.

Intellectual inputs into the issue, mostly in local papers based in the Imphal Valley, have been a one-sided Meetei centric understanding and analysis of the political history of so called “Manipur”. In all their writings, they have espoused the myth of the “integrity” of Manipur. However, a lot of questions remain unanswered.

Let us start with the basic concept of who a “Manipuri” is. Are the Kukis, Hmars, Zos, Nagas, Baites, and the many other non-Meetei tribes, purely by virtue of being within the present day colonial powers drawn boundaries of Manipur, Manipuris, as the Meetei scholars would want the world to believe? What is the underlying logic or rationale that defines who a Manipuri is?

Is it culture? If so, then surely it is not just the culture of the Meeteis that should be discussed when postulating the myth of Manipur for there are certainly many cultures at play here.
Is it political affiliations? Again if so, even the Meeteis themselves are politically aligned to different political viewpoints. Take the numerous armed groups fighting for “Kangleipak”. Even within themselves, there is no clarity or consensus in their conception of “Kangleipak”. Further, it is not just the Nagas struggling for their rights, there are many other tribes diametrically aligned against the chauvinism of Meetei policies. Against all these, can we say that everyone politically agrees to the concept of Manipur?

Is it history that defines who a Manipuri is? If this is the case, whose history are we going to pick? The history of the dominant Meetei population? Even within the history of the Meeteis themselves, are we going to talk of the different narratives of the history of those from Moirang, Kakching, Sekmai or just about the history of those from the Kangla area borrowed from Hindu myths? Even if the history is going to be a general history of those in the Imphal valley, we certainly need to retell the history of subjugation, rampage, mass extermination, and torture meted out to those living in the hill areas by the Meetei Maharajah.

Is it self-identification? If so, then shouldn’t the right to self-identification be equally applicable to all the tribes living in the hills and not just the Meeteis? Why should the identity of the many tribes in Manipur be forcefully subsumed or subdued when the political interests of the Meeteis is at stake? Why should the Meeteis forget this so called “Manipuri” identity when it comes to the distribution of developmental funds and benefits? Why should more than half of the budgetary allocations for development of Manipur be for the development of the valley and not for the outlying hill areas? Surely, the tribes living in the hills have equal rights to development as the Meeteis in the valley.

The fact is, the concept of “Manipuri” is a creation of the Meeteis for their own political and economic convenience. The Meeteis, as seen in many occasions, cry hoarse over the existence of this identity without doing anything substantive to give meaning to it. The question then is, how can the concept of Manipur be anything but a myth when the very concept of “Manipuri” that underpins it itself lacks clarity. Manipur is founded on the Meeteis’ chauvinistic parochial outlook and such a foundation necessarily invites problems.

The game plan of the Meetei dominated GOM, at this juncture, is to push in more money to buy off people, and to continue spinning its propaganda wheels. Rumours are already abound that more than 10 crores have been sanctioned by the GOM to address the present crisis. If this is true, where did this money come from? It would be very fair to surmise that it is most likely from the development funds meant for the hill areas.
Ibobi has been playing the “territorial integrity” card for so long that it has become his political mantra. And strangely enough, even his dissenters and those who are opposed to him have fallen into the “territorial integrity” trap. Not so long ago, the UCM and AMUCO were tirelessly campaigning to bring Ibobi’s government down. Now Ibobi, UCM and AMUCO are best friends defending the “territorial integrity” of Manipur. Where are the consistency and the values of these organisations?

A look at how the debates have enfolded in the national media also indicates the chauvinism of the Meeteis. Any opinions they express are the opinions of the whole of “Manipur”. Those dissenting voices that do reach the national media are labeled as the voices of “minorities”. What sort of a relationship is it when the concept of “majority” and “minority” exists?

The deployment of Manipur Indian Reserved Battalion (MIRB) is another example of the Meeteis’ politics to militarily control the hill areas. Opinions from the hills have been very clear that they do not want militarization of their lands, despite this, the GOM continues to sent in more security forces. A fact that should not escape the people in the hills is that MIRB personnel are mostly drawn from the Meetei community. In fact, a high number of them are from the constituency of the Chief Minister. Interestingly, Imphal township which has the highest killing rate in the whole state has six segments where Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) is inapplicable. Ironically, in the hill districts which boast of no such incidents, AFSPA is in force. Is this not discrimination?
Tribals have witnessed the chauvinism and hypocrisy of the Meeteis in their struggle for the application of Sixth Schedule. There was a time not so long ago when the Meeteis mobilized the different tribes for supporting the inclusion of Manipuri in the Eight Schedule with the promise that when the tribes fight for the Sixth Schedule, they will support it. Where has that support gone?

During the Manorama case, tribal bodies voiced and gave their support in the fight against the incident. In the Hmar rape case, when the perpetrators were Meetei armed groups, the Meetei civil society remained silent and mute.

For the tribes in Manipur, good relationship with the Meeteis will be determined by the political and economical conveniences of the Meeteis and not the tribes. If the tribes are ready to live with this, it is their call and not something that should be forced upon by the Meeteis. But it may very well be so that what the Meeteis are doing to the Nagas, they will surely do it to the other tribes one fine day. For the Nagas, it is very clear that they cannot be part of this fiction called Manipur.

In trying to argue and postulate their so called history of Manipur, the Meetei intellectuals have conveniently erased the history and identity of the many tribes living in the hills, in the periphery of the Meetei concentrated valley. Ironically, while doing this, these intellectuals have also gone to the extent of adopting the “Ching-Tam Amadani” refrain. The question is, how can we say that the people in the valley and the people in the hills are one when one of them is vociferously trying to erase the history and identity of the other? How can we say we are one when the concept of oneness is underpinned by the concept of chauvinistic dominance of one over the other?
These are questions that everyone should be asking. It is time the different tribes in so called Manipur state come together and join hands in fighting for their equal rights.


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