By L.Keivom, Inpui.com Columnist
Random Diaries-1 a khan Imphala kan vuong lut ni zanah Kuki-Paite inkara buoina chu Thingchom khaw hnai Saikul-ah a puok dar a. Chu chun chappui kang vanglaia a vabuchawi vuong darin a se vel hmun dang dangah mei a trai dar ang elin Churachandpur Biel, abikin Kailamchung tieng le Tuithraphai hmun hrang hrangah buoina a suok thu le sipai chauh naw chu tu khom Churachandpur lut thei loa an khar khip thu le Imphala nuom le nuom naw thu hril loa kan intang thu le ningtel a umzie, ka Diary-a ka ziek threnkhat chu ei tar lang tah a.
Mizorama inthoka inremna siem dan dap dinga Peace Mission an hung tir khom Imphalah an hung lut ta a. Chuong lai chanchin, a thren chauh ka Diary-a ka ziek chu iemani zat hang phor lang nawk ei tih.
July 1, 1997 Tuesday, Imphal
Pu Haokholal Thangjom, former Cabinet Minister in the Manipur Government and a seasoned and respected tribal leader accompanied by Pu Laltawna came to visit me in the morning and had many interesting discussions on Zoram khawvel politics. I gave him a copy of my 370-page latest book Zoram Khawvel-4 which was released at Hotel Ritz in Aizawl on May 29, 1997, perhaps the only book so far in Mizo dealing exclusively on the theories and manifestations of national identity and nationalism in contemporary world with special reference to the people of Zoram khawvel.
After brunch, went to meet Pu Kaihao, Accountant General at his office accompanied by Pu Doruma. Phoned Lalzar B. Sinate. Also tried to reach M.C.Lalrinthanga and V.L.Zaikima, publisher and printer of Zoram Khawvel serials at Aizawl as also Lala Khobung, ADM (J) but were all out of reach and left message.
From Pu Kaihao’s office, I proceeded to the Presbyterian Centre at Deulahland, met Rev. Chawnghranga in charge of the Centre, bought one copy each of Zoram Khawvel 1 & 3 and Pherzawl Titi for Rs. 205/- and returned to Checkon.
Rev. Chawnghranga told me that they were going to receive a goodwill delegation from Mizoram who were expected to arrive at around 3.30-4 pm. The delegation was sent by Chief Minister Lalthanhawla with two truck load of rice. It was led by by Hon. Chawngkunga, Minister of Agriculture and Department of Arts and Culture accompanied by Francis Lawmkima (Kuki MLA) and Zathruama (Paite MLA). Their mission was to try to find out a peaceful solution to the Kuki-Paite conflict in Churachandpur.
Later I heard that they could not be able to reach Imphal as the CRP convoy was ambushed at Khopum allegedly by the armed Nagas and had to stop over for a night at Noney (Naw-ne), the biggest Rongmei Naga town on Jiribam Road, 64 kms or 40 miles from Imphal (Perhaps a diversionary tactics by the Nagas, indirectly reminding them of the danger of their mission? One never knows. Nothing can be ruled out in the game of political manoeuvres).
Dinner at our place of stay at Checkon organized by Mawizuol, Enga of Saidan and Joseph (U Kamzabiek’s son). We sang animatedly with guitar some choicest romantic and melodious songs composed in the 60s and 70s including some of my compositions and had a good time. The ‘uisa’ preparation was one of the tastiest I had ever eaten since my arrival in the north-east. The ‘west’ shudders and the ‘east’ cackles at the mention of ‘uisa’ and the twain shall never meet on this palatable site. Let the world remain forever divide on this account: the knows and the knows-not, uisa-eating paradise and uisa-less hell.
July 2, 1997 Wednesday, Imphal
Got up late. After brunch I went out with U Lalngatta to SBI to encash $ 300 worth of Traveler’s Cheque amounting to Rs.10605 at the current rate of exchange of Rs.35.35 per dollar and then went to a travel agent to book two tickets for Imphal-Gauhati flight for Sunday July 6 but on waiting list of 120 over. From there, we went to Shaiza’s house but he was not there. We then headed for the airport to meet him. He was not there either. Having come so far, the prospect of going back to Delhi without visiting friends and relatives at Churachandpur was really painful.
It was the first day of Manipur Budget Session and the security arrangements around the Assembly House beat all measures: lines of armed policemen and policewomen closely fenced the area as if a full-scale war was going on. Who had created this kind of situation and who was responsible for it? If politicians could not face their people without full security cover, then what was the point of their being in politics? It’s a sight worth seeing and meditating. Gone were our days in D.M.College in the early 1960s when life was simple and peaceful, no gun-toting creatures were seen and known, the Imphal air was fresh and sweet and communal tension was unheard of.
Came back to Checkon at 3 pm. Shortly after, I received a call to inform me that Mizoram Peace Mission led by Minister Chawngkunga had arrived in Imphal and were put up at Hotel Imphal (Ashok). Immediately I rang up Francis Lawmkima (with whom I studied history at Gauhati University in 1964-66) and then rushed to the hotel where I met all of them and briefed of the situation.
Pu Chawngkunga told me several things, right and wrong. Seemed he had good memories but suffering heavily from Tualte Vanglai Syndrome (TVS). He said he got more than Rs. 4 lakh in advance for the Mizo Geneology he compiled sometime ago which, most of it, were lifted strait from other publications without giving them the required acknowledgement or credit which courtesy demanded he should so that in the process his book would gain credibility and acceptance. He was an interesting character: nationalistic, lively, kicking and sharp but naïve. I wished he was a little more educated and informed. He could be an useful national asset to further Zoram khawvel movement.
The Peace Mission had a meeting with some local leaders of Churachandpur including Holkhomang and Selkai Hrangchal. They invited me to participate at the meeting but I declined. It was interesting to watch how the Paites were trying to sequester Zathruama as if he was their spokeman. I told the leader of the delegation the composition of his team was wrong. It should have been better if no Paite or Kuki was included. They said that it was a preliminary attempt and they would be more careful in the next visit. I told them there might not be a second visit if the first was a failure.
The delegation was to meet Chief Minister Rishang Keishing in the evening for a courtesy call. Nobody seemed to have coordinated their programme. I did not meet them again in the evening.
Mr. Kaihao Vaiphei, A.G rang up to tell that the intelligence report of the day indicated a possibility of a clash between Manipuris and Nagas for the former to have leanings on the Kuki side. Manipur ethnic cauldron is a powder-keg potentially dangerous as it could explode any moment at the drop of a hat.
Mizo AIR programme reported 13 dead and 17 injured because of Kuki-Paite clash on the day.
July 3, 1997 Thursday, Imphal
Got up early. Decided to proceed to Churachandpur in response to the special request of0 Pu Chawngkunga that my wife and I accompany the Peace Mission Team to Churachandpur. Car came to pick us up at 0930 hours and we proceeded to Hotel Imphal (Ashoka). We travelled in the Minister’s car with a big escort in front and behind. The Minister entertained us with all kinds of hilarious Mizo anecdotes and wisecracks. When we were passing through Bishenpur he said unexpectedly, “Let’s sing ‘Ri hok hokin’” (Ri hok hokin kha han sa ila). I was pleasantly surprised and asked him where and when did he learn and whether he knew the lyrics. He told me that he was once invited by the Hmar Students’ Association as Chief Guest and they sang this song and immediately fell in love with it. It’s the song I composed in Delhi in early 1970s known under the title ‘Kan tlangram mawi’ or ‘Dar ang lengna’ and the Minister could recite the whole song as eloquent as he did The Lord’s Prayer. So we sang with wild abandon clapping hands and forgetting for a moment the Kuki-Paite conflict.
Reached Churachandpur at 1230 hours and proceeded straight to Inspection Bungalow. Attended the first meeting chaired by Pu Zathruama MLA who could speak Hmar, Paite and Mizo-Lusei fluently. He gave a brief introduction and explanation of the purpose of their mission. Then the Minister took the floor followed by Francis Lawmkima. The Chairman called several speakers, mostly from the Paite community and only one each from Kuki and Gangte representatives and Peace Committee Chairman Rev. Darsanglien Ruolngul spoke. It’s a one-sided affair hijacked by one community.
I left the meeting at 2 pm, went to U Rokung’s house and from there to Lalbiekvel Fimate’s house at Rengkai Road where I had to stay for the night. After awhile, we went out on foot to visit our immediate relatives and friends in Rengkai and Nehru Marg, the latter place being our permanent address while in service. Bieka is married to Lalthienghlim, the daughter of my eldest brother Khawtinkung, now in Khawmawi.
Because of the curfew, we could not go out anywhere. My nephew Edward Thangchunghnung Hrangate whom I gave his name somehow managed to visit us and stayed till 10 pm which in Churachandpur standard is quite late as most people eat dinner during daylight and go to bed at dusk. There was an eerie silence and even street dogs did not bark perhaps sensing the lurking danger. The stillness was broken for sometime at 8.30 pm by the sound of gunfire from the southern side.
Hi chena hin la hang suktawp phot inla, hun remchang hmasa takah ei sunzom nawk ding a nih. Isu’n “Indo inlengtir dinga hung ka ni lem” (Lk 12:51) a ti kha a hril umzie hre chieng loin, eini rawi hin a’n khat tawka unau hmel hai thawa inchemhar hi ieng chen am ei la chǐng ding maw? (June 29, 2014, Sunday, Delhi)