By: Marjing Mayanglambam
I do believe faintly that this article will end up as a mere collection of words printed on a piece of paper and forgotten by the people and even myself. In this society of fame and power, I am just a simple unknown human who wants to share opinions for the betterment of my community and motherland. This self-low esteem and personal inferiority sense of mine did not stop me from writing about our society a long time ago. My passion and love for writing led me to write about the beauties of human love and bonding but how can one write about love and beauty when you see and experience the authorities and society messing up our beautiful land and promising souls? This article is written with a broken heart and troubled soul after knowing about the riots and uprisings happening in Manipur since the beginning of May 2023. Before I go to the present, let me recall some gruesome events which shocked the people of Manipur and even made international attention.
I was raised in a land where I was exposed to riots, uprisings, and tremendous levels of violence on a regular basis. The long hunger strike of Irom Chanu Sharmila starting in 2000, the Great June Uprising of 2001, the cruel case of Thangjam Manorama in 2004, the brutal killings of Dr Kishan, Token and Rajen in 2009, the merciless killings of Rabina and Sanjit in 2009 are some of the biggest heinous acts which happened in Manipur during my early childhood days. I can memorize these well-known words the “Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act 1958” well more than the name of any single government schemes of the Republic of India. I can remember vividly the faces of those naked Emas (mothers) protesting in front of Kangla Fort more than the faces of mainland India’s freedom fighters. In my land, I have seen more guns than computers and more armed militaries than students. Singing India’s national anthem created more fear than the fear of failing exams. During those days, social issues and public uprisings were less focused on a specific community and more based as agitations against armed aggression by the commandos and police towards the common people.
It is weird yet normal to raise the question of one’s own citizenship in a country like India and especially in this so called overrated popular region, the “Northeast”. I willingly call myself an Indian, while my fellow citizens from mainland India mockingly call me Chinese. I and my homeland’s people although legally an Indian citizen by birth need to earn a status in order to be called an Indian mainly by means of success in sports or achieving a position of highly regarded award or such. For example, only when I win an Olympic medal (that too a gold medal) I may be called a son of Bharat Mata and if lucky they might correctly announce my home state as Manipur instead of Assam. I have endless narratives and opinions about such discriminations and the inferior complex which have developed in we Manipuris since our annexation to the Union of India, but what can the remembering of all those unwanted memories bring now? We have moved on with a heavy heart and what we can do now is to develop our land and make ourselves stand firmly on a platform which will make us self-dependent rather than waiting for the central government’s inevitable pitiful sprinkle of funds.
Besides being well known for its natural beauties and wonders, Manipur is doing its best in order to be known for its long-term internet banning and regular unethical socio-political unrests. Whom(s) can be blamed regarding this unwanted progress? The people or our elected representatives or the government public servants?
I have felt the need to divert this article’s main points by bringing up general issues and stories to show my stand of neutrality and solidarity to the people of Manipur. However, by staying silent or neutral during the present unrest makes me feel like a coward. My voice may not matter to anyone, but it matters to me and my self-dignity. Let me shed a few opinions regarding the present unrest. The native indigenous communities and the educated rightful thinkers of Manipur already know the reasons for the present unrest, and I am not going to write it out for it is a waste of resource. Yes, I am a believer, and have faith in my God which does not necessarily falls under the Abrahamic religious gods. Our Meitei gods reside in our homes and we Meiteis respect and regard them highly just as those idols, symbols, or portraits in Churches. Simple logic suggests that whoever starts destruction is to be blamed for it was not a battlefield and the innocent Meitei victims were not aware of what was going to happen to them. Maybe it happens only in Manipur where peace rallies are carried out with armed militants firing their guns and the so called “peaceful participants” burning down houses. Maybe it is their own unique culture or teachings where they shout “peaceful” degrading vulgar slang slogans which mentions our Chief Minister.
Now there is the need to bring an understanding among the native indigenous settlers and our government must implement strong regulations to filter out the illegal semi-nomadic hordes. Manipur is too poor and weak and not well equipped to host every refugee and illegal immigrants. Our motherland has suffered too much, and it is high time to bring harmony and actual peace among we natives. But we aren’t Buddha or Gandhi, so if they slap on our left cheeks, our righteous response might be way bigger than a slap. The current chaos is supposed to be handled between the Manipur Government and the so called “Lost tribes of Israel”settling in Manipur and should not be used as a tool for political gains by any political parties. Solution must be brought by the government and banning the internet connectivity questions the government’s IT department’s abilities. Lastly, in Manipur the word “peace” is now just as ineffective as the self-styled “friends of the hills” armed personnels.
Emaleibak Manipur na Yaiphare!
Long live our Motherland Manipur!
(The author is M.A. Ethnomusicology student, University of North Texas)
My Voice For Our Motherland Manipur
By: Marjing Mayanglambam