By- Jinine Lai
No doubt, the Meeteis, in comparison with theother NE India communities, stand well ahead. It is both of physical and intellectual display. Possessed script and owned knowledge bank of Puya written in that script is not happened to many communities of the world. The historical character that introduced the game of polo to the world is a precious legacy. Many sports men and women make power house of sports in the Indian sub-continent. The independent instinct that fought back the British colonial power inked the Anglo-Manipur War and NupiLan. The historical exercise of universal franchise which had installed the first people government in the whole of South East Asia, the movement of revolutionary Hijam Irabot, unique Meira Paibis, phenomenon Irom Sharmila, undaunted Pebam Chitaranjan and individuals who take part in the struggle against the injustice highlight elevating endeavors for democracy and human rights. Rich art and culture, women-market, Sumang Kumhei, a good few professionals and plenty of journalistic works, etc. are recommendable domain.
Yet more or less we are spiraling into, getting bogged down somewhere due to our own weaknesses not merely external forces.
Hypocrisy:Since late 80s during the college-student elections, the youths were active in violent and corrupt tone. They had to spend a huge amount of money for the activities on the election day and days prior to the event. They opened camps, offered tea parties, dinner, blue films and to pick up students. Such self-inflicted practices at the height of armed opposition movement have been continuing. Even guns are active and many armed groups involved to get their ones won. How far they are qualified to condemn the same principle of sick and unfairness of the bigger size?
Quality of the voluntary organizations is of the very obvious dismay among the student bodies and civil societies. The office maintenance, paper work, finance, executing programs and administration are at lowest bottom, very pathetic indeed.
The attitude of majority of the volunteers who are coming out assuming themselves to engage in social upliftment and to fight against the social injustices sounds radical, gender bias and less educated. They are very reactive, they make their harsh voice against the female morality and the alcoholic beverages. They often attack small drink-vendors run by low income families. They love to check private activities of men and women in rendezvous. They assault the individuals found suspicious of having sex and humiliate particularly female. They demand female to maintain dress code. Many of them act themselves as mediators in private affairs of others and enforced monetary charges as penalty upon the victims.The manner which policing moral of others does more harm than the reformation desired, and they proclaim themselves more patriotic.
On the other hand I know some men, women who have concern about social injustices, corruption, failed government;most of them are young, do drink, are educated and liberal. They do care for others and take part in work of women empowerment. They love Manipur,have local aspiration, and look forward to good society. Are they patriotic enough?
The saying that Meeteis are lion is not case anymore. Real courage was not seen at the height of fake encounters killings. Particularly male siblings have not displayed their true courage when their dear ones got tortured and killed so unfairly. They have not reacted to the perpetrators as supposed to. They usually succumbed to the challenge and compromise the condition with the perpetrators. In fact, least numbers of human rights workers have come out to respond to the daily killings.Polarization: What we generally perceive as an activist and as a public was how responses have to be made towards the social injustices, controversial merger, militarization, human rights violations, mis-governance, corruption, etc. I had been participating meetings and actions ever since Apunba Lup was formed in a Sangoi of the Thangjam Manorama’s neighbors after she was killed in the summer of 2004. What I found among the civil societies and groups was disputes and distractions. More energy and time have been given to the group oriented-non issues than real issues of the collective endeavor. I had assumed the polarization that active was among less academic community with narrow window outlook whom I had been mingled with. Sooner I got closer to more scholar, intellectual circle of all ages young, middle, old; yet plenty of split and polarization churning individual ego have been seen.
Then the time of social media which yields me more English versed young people of all sexes. I was hopeful to see their neutrality, liberal and more importantly their concern about the existing issues and challenges of contemporary Manipur. Oh my god! They are not less imperative in displaying their Id- ego which gradually repelling themselves from building a synergic force. To work themselves together for a collective bigger cause is appearing a real challenge.
This split and polarization cannot be taken for granted with excuse of enjoying democracy since it does not help to mitigate the challenges and move the things forward to favorable direction.
Worst Blood: Militarization by Indian Government has caused multiple damages to Manipur- ranges from of the sovereignty to human rights. Having said that even though the activities of the Indian armed forces and imposition of AFSPA underlie implications towards the unfavorable atmosphere, the role, behavior and character of Manipur Police Commandos have been found at the worst and at the most condemnable too.
The attitude of the individual personnel of Police Commandos is far ugly and brute in comparison with regular Indian army, CRPF and sometimes even with those notorious Assam Rifles. The level of atrocities, abuse of power, and the manner in which dealing with civilians is much disheartening, so terrifying indeed. They speak same language, eat same food and they have grown up on the same soil and environment. They are the product of the same society which produced the victims of torture and fake encounter likewise. Are they shaped by the precedent behavior of the colonial typical police, or influenced and encouraged by the exemplary actions of legendary IG Romen, Cammando Lokhon, Jotin, Mobi, etc. In fact, the most killings and tortures were occurring during the reign of Chief Minister OkramIbobi and DG Y. Joykumar. Ibobi encouraged the police morale so horribly that Joykumar also got rid of reluctance in checking the police excesses prevailed at the time. Thus sooner than later commandos personnel have not cared the damned formalities and words of their senior officers. Even some higher rank English educated officers hesitated to deal with such notorious commandos.
Very interestingly army, CRPF and even some Assam Rifles men who speak different language, don’t share similarity yet usually deal with the public in less tensed way. They ask questions in responsible manner and in less hostile way. If someone can speak Hindi in functional level there is of course tension free and can deal such road frisking or house raid somehow. Yes, Assam Rifles are found usually much dangerous particularly if they are coming for late night house raid or operation.
For pretty long years, as a student activist, journalist and human rights worker I have been observing general character among the majority of Meeteis. I found rowdy and unrefined attitude among student activists, member of civil societies, local volunteers, even journalists. When they talked to or interrogated suspects of an incident the manner they did likewise. Although I did not know about the Nagas and Kukis well, recently I do know they are not different from the Meeteis’. Pangals are likewise. This is evident that mobocracy is one living example kicked by this same sick trait.
The nature of such, our common character connotes various challenges encountered by contemporary Manipur.Hardly have we counted it as a serious heavy concern. This has been a suicidal act upon ourselves. Mere the game of blaming towards the other, external forces, Government of India has not been productive so far. Lack of introspection, retrospection and not acknowledged our own weaknesses do not help us in anyway.
(The writer is an Asst. Professor, University of Suwon, S Korea)