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Friday, 29 March 2019 - Imphal Times

Utlou incident and the culture of Nupi Khongoinaba

By : Lukhoi Meitei

The attempt here is to probe what happened in  Utlou that day. I try to gain clarity on what transpired in Utlou that day by casting away false arguments and debates which have muddied the horrible incident. The incident, I argue, should be seen as a case of violence against women. It is the regressive feudal practice of nupi khongoinaba which entailed the mob attack. I appeal that we must collectively apologise to women who were attacked that day in Utlou.
1. Laan ba-Laan da ba debate and the clash of cultures
Is the attack made to preserve the Meitei culture? There is a general perception that Meitei men were not abused or beaten in the mob attack. And, men are half the population, half the culture. Why were not men attacked? It implies that there is more to the attack than just preserving culture. There is no denying that there is a cultural difference between the people who attended the party and the people of Utlou. Yes, such a yausang party, where men and women drink and dance wearing clothes which men and women of Utlou do not wear, is not the culture of Meitei peasantry. And, it might be that only men drink in Utlou and not women. Therefore, the party might have offended the sensibilities of the people of Utlou. And, there is a clash. It might be a clash between two cultures, as people have presented in the mainstream media. Yes, many of us might not endorse such a culture but it does not mean that one culture is right and another is wrong. Chatna ba- chatna daba is very different from laan ba - laan da ba. Culture is about chatnabi. It is not about who is right and who is wrong. It is quite odd to say that one culture is wrong and another is right. A culture can be decadent, regressive or progressive. That’s all we can say. So, the matter of laan ba and laan daba or right and wrong when it comes to culture does not arise. Therefore, it does not make any sense to raise the question that those women at the party were right or wrong.
2. Manipur, a dry and patriarchal state
Women organisations ban the sale and consumption of alcohol in most parts of the valley. The government banned the sale of alcohol in Manipur since 1991.  However, people brew and consume local alcohol in Chakpa villages and tribal khun-s in the Imphal valley. Therefore, the state is not that dry. One logic behind the ban is that men drink alcohol and beat their wives and ruin their families. The ban reduces violence against women.  The ban is justified to that extent, as it offers a temporary respite to women, especially to the women of the working class and peasantry.  Not that alcohol is the reason for men beating their wives. Since the ban on alcohol is to reduce violence against women, it should not further propagate violence against women. The mob, we must remember, attacked women at the party. Most importantly, the ban is not because women drink alcohol. There might be few cases of alcoholic women who need help in the Imphal Valley. The ban is primarily against men drinking alcohol. If an anti-alcohol raid happens, who needs to be dealt with first. The apparent answer is men who were drinking and not women who were drinking. It is men who are in grave danger. Many of them have become alcoholics, and they perpetrate abuses.  Now, should the incident of Utlou qualify as a well-thought-out raid in a private party for consuming alcohol? It seems not. It was a raid which ended up abusing women. Not only men, but even the state machinery seems exonerated, except the women in the party.  
3. Utlou Incident, the feudal practice of nupi khongoinaba and not an expression of class struggle
We have seen that the attack seems to qualify neither as an attempt to preserve one’s culture nor a well-thought-out anti-alcohol raid. Now, I examine an understanding of the incident which is worth settling. The narrative argues that the incident is an expression of class antagonism. Yes, there is a stark class difference between the people of Utlou and those who attended the party. Since there is a class difference, there is class antagonism. The people of Utlou might have been offended by the class arrogance of those at the party. However, what transpired in Utlou that day is not an expression of class antagonism or hatred towards the class arrogance of the Imphal elites at the party. If it were that, it would have also attacked the state machinery which was guarding them in the party. It would have also attacked the compound where the party was going on. Moreover, the general perception is that the mob which attacked the party did not physically assault Meitei men who were there. It means the crowd knew where to strike. The women at the party were the targets. How can class antagonism be selectively expressed towards women? It means there is something more to it.  
Khwairakpam Renuka in her 2011 paper on the pre-vaishnavite culture of Manipur mentions khongoinaba as a punishment awarded to women for committing crimes such as the murder of husband, abortion or stealing children. The feudal punishment finds it mentions in the Chietharon Kumpapa, in a late 16th-century entry in the royal chronicle. Colonial ethnographer James Johnstone also describes the punishment in his book, Manipur and the Naga Hills. He says the convicted woman is stripped to the waist, her breast painted red (most probably lime and turmeric mixture) and tied with a rope on the waist and paraded in the market with people shouting, “come and look at this naughty woman!”  This sort of public shaming specific to women is a feudal practice. What transpired in Utlou that day and afterwards in the social media is a case of nupi khongoinaba, where women were specifically targeted for violating the feudal norm that women cannot drink but men can drink. The attackers did not bother the men who were drinking. So, it is not about banning alcohol per se for reducing violence against women. It is about enforcing the norm that women cannot drink but men can through perpetrating more violence toward women. Hence, there was nothing progressive about the Utlou incident. Furthermore, leikai gi wayen, which is an old and effective means to resolve disputes at the local level, should become progressive than the state’s rule of law which often protects the rich and powerful. And, leikai gi wayen should abandon the feudal practice of nupi khongoinaba. Our society in the name of the culture should not carry this practice forward, just like we do not endorse the feudal punishment of cutting off limbs for stealing royal garments anymore or the practice of amang-aseng.
4. Achit Akom Yengba Pamba and Social Media on Utlou Incident
Women, at the party, were attacked publicly. The attackers tried tearing clothes of the women; they beat up women and filmed them forcefully.  Nupi khongoinaba, a wrong thing, happened in  Utlou that day. To compound the wrong more, the videos of the incident made rounds in social media. And, the people watched and circulated videos of women, who were violated that day, all over the internet.  “Come watch this naughty women,” the words of Johnstone describing the practice of khongoinaba, we see it in the social media in many ways this time. It was a blatant display of achit akom yengba pamba and sadism. It warrants strong condemnation.
When it comes to the role of Manipur’s mainstream media, ISTV’s discussion on the matter is worth mentioning. The title of the discussion was “Orgy Like Parties During Festivals.” The title suggests that the party was not an orgy. It was orgy-like. But, what exactly are “orgy-like parties ?”  Women wearing shorts, drinking and dancing with men is neither an orgy nor orgy-like, if there is such a thing as orgy-like. Therefore, the only meaning we can infer from the title of the said program in ISTV is that it wanted to use the word, orgy, anyhow. The matter is serious, and it should not be spiced up. We should not be following the mainland Indian media and avoid sensationalising such a thing. There is nothing happy and exciting about this incident.
Lastly, our struggle for social and material equality and national identity is not just against the rich and powerful who oppress us. Our struggle is not just against mayang oppressors. It is also against our past, the feudal practices we inherit. This regressive feudal practice came to our face when Utlou incident happened followed by a blatant display of sadism and achit akom yengba in the social media. The only redemption is a collective apology.  We must collectively apologise to women victims of the Utlou incident for redemption as we are the ones who have carried forward the feudal practice of nupi khongoinaba till now unchallenged for centuries.

Congress slams BJP for playing communal politics; Kuki card spreads in social networking site by Benjamin Mate – Joykishan

IT News

Imphal, March 29,

Manipur Pradesh Congress Committee (MPCC) today slammed the BJP for playing communal politics in their endeavour to win the upcoming Lok-Sabha election in Outer Manipur Parliamentary Constituency.

In a press meet held today at Congress Bhavan here in Imphal, spokesperson of the party Khumukcham Joykishan said the BJP candidate of the outer Manipur PC is spreading six point promises for the welfare of Kuki people using social networking site and particularly in popular messaging app WhatsApp.

“Many times the Chief Minister had stated that the BJP don’t believe in communal politics, but the way the BJP is spreading promises showed that they have cheated the people of the state”, Joykishan said while adding that if the promise stands true why not Benjamin Mate has been arrested.

“Journalist Kishorchand is detained under NSA for criticizing the government, why the person, Benjamin Mate should not be arrested for trying to distort the integrity of the state”, Joykishan said and further alleged the government of running the governance under the dictate of the arm rebel group.

Supporting his allegation, Joykishan recalled what the Chief Minister had replied during question hour in state Assembly session at which the CM stated that “Moreh Market complex couldn’t be started due to pressure from some outlaw organization”.

On the other hand, Joykishan also hits hard on Chief Minister’s statement which he said that he will resign his post if anything he promised had not been done.

“The present BJP government had promised for lifting of AFSPA, and I move a private member resolution for lifting of AFSPA”, Joykishan said and added that the Private member resolution was flatly denied to pass by the Chief Minister himself.

The Congress spokesperson further added that the BJP had also promised 7th Pay for the employees but till today the promise has not been converted into action. Joykishan also question where is the promise for repairing of RIMS road at which the CM promise at the earliest possible time.

Mention may be made that the Chief Minister during an election campaign yesterday said that he will resign if anything promise by him and his party has not been converted into action.  

The promise to Kuki community to vote for by Benjamin Mate spread through social media is being produced below.

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No candidate withdraws Nominations on the last day for withdrawal in Inner Manipur PC

IT News
Imphal, March 29,

All together 11 candidates are in the fray in the Inner Manipur Parliamentary Constituency as none of the candidate had withdraw their nomination on the last day for withdrawal of nomination for 2nd phase LS poll.
The Inner Manipur Parliamentary Constituency election will be held in second phase. In the Outer Manipur PC 8 candidates are in the fray and the election will be heldat First phase.
 Ninety seven constituencies, spread over 13 States and Union Territories across the country, will go to polls in this phase on the 18th of next month.
Elections will be held in all 39 Parliamentary constituencies in Tamil Nadu. Other constituencies where voting will take place in this phase are 14 in Karnataka; 10 in Maharashtra; eight in Uttar Pradesh; five each in Assam, Bihar and Odisha; three each in Chhattisgarh and West Bengal; two in Jammu and Kashmir; and one each in Manipur, Tripura and Puducherry.
In Jammu and Kashmir, nomination papers of all the 14 candidates for the Udhampur-Doda Lok Sabha constituency were found valid after scrutiny on Wednesday. In Bihar, 19 nomination papers were rejected and Seventy papers were found correct. In Odisha, 37 nominations for five Lok Sabha constituencies and 261 nominations for Assembly seats under them were found valid. 

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Observers assess poll preparedness

Thoubal, March 29,  

 Observers appointed by ECI today held meeting with concerned officers to review poll preparedness and take stock of the ground situation at the conference hall of DC Office, Thoubal.
The Observers namely P. David Pradhan and Nabru Wangdi are General Observers and Pravin Kr. Padwar is Police Observer.
In the meeting, the observers stressed on the officers to work in close coordination with each other to ensure smooth conduct of the election process. They were also briefed by the nodal officers about the arrangements put in place for the smooth conduct of the election.
DEO/DC, Thoubal Smt. Haobam Rosita, ADC, Thoubal L. Radhakanta, SPs of Thoubal and Kakching, COs of 6th Bn, AR/28, AR/39, Police Nodal Officer, Thoubal, AROs of Thoubal and Kakching and Nodal Officers of Thoubal and Kakching attended the review meeting.

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Local liquor with label “Chakpa Kallei” found selling in dry state Manipur

IT News
Imphal, March 29,

Volunteers of  Coalition Against Drugs & Alcohol (CADA) seized labeled local brew being sold on open market at Lamphel area while conducting drive against illicit liquors.
A press statement by CADA said that at around 11 am while conducting drive against illicit liquors at Lamphel area near Shija Hospital Road close to the Home Guard Head Quarter, volunteers of the CADA found Distilled Indigenous country liquor from a person .  
Pack country liquor bottle with labeled “Chakpa Kallei” were seized from a vendor owned by one Konsam Panchamani, along with lose local brew.
The volunteers of the CADA destroyed the seized liquor by burning at the spot.
The CADA statement further said that selling of labeled country liquor with the name “Chakpa Kallei” ( - A Traditional Indigenous Products, Originated from Chakpa Phayeng) is very unfortunate as the state is still a dry state after the enforcement of Liquor Prohibition Act 1991.
Today’s evidence shows that there are people in the state who set up factory for liquor.
The statement also added that hands of those in the government cannot be denied as these people openly set up factory for liquor in a dry state.  
The CADA also lambasted the government for not taking action against those who violated the law of the land.

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Workshop on Digital Security for Journalists covering Election held

IT News
Imphal, March 29,

Committee to protect Journalists (CPJ) and Khelen Thokchom Trust (KTT) today organised an interaction cum workshop on the Digital  on Digital Security for Journalists covering Election at Manipur Press Club Imphal.
CPJ is an Independent nonprofit organization that promotes press freedom worldwide, while KTT is a trust of the fans of late Journalist Khelen Thokchom which aims to promote quality journalism in the state.
Indi Correspondent of the CPJ spoke as resource person and elaborated the activities of the CPJ besides distributing the Journalists Safety Kit.
Members of the Hill Journalists Union including Ramkung Panmei, Sothing Simrray, Jimmy Panmei among others and members of the KTT along with journalist from various media houses in the state attended the workshop.

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Joint mock exercise on disaster management to be held

Imphal, March 29,

Department of Relief and Disaster Management, Government of Manipur will organize a joint mock drill under the theme Earthquake at 11.00 am on March 30, 2019 at Khuman Lampak, Imphal. The joint mock exercise is organized with 12 BN, National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), Doimukh, Arunachal Pradesh. The drill is being organized in compliance to the instruction from Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India.
According to a Press release issued by the Documentation-cum-Research Officer, Relief & Disaster Management, Government of Manipur all the print and electronic media may attend the mock drill and cover the same on time.

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Manjit Sarangthem is the new convenor of JSCC

IT News
Imphal March 29

Former President of AMSU Manjit Sarangthem has today taken charge as the new convener of Joint Students’ Coordinating Committee (JSCC).
JSCC which was founded in 2011 was an apex student body comprising of four students organization of Manipur i.e. AMSU, MSF, KSA, SUK.
Speaking in an oath taking cum charge handing ceremony held at Press Club today Manjit Sarangthem said that student play a very important role in the society. Various roles have been taken by the students in different revolutions around the world he added. He further said that the responsibility of the youth and the students has been added even more in the era of Information Technology to bring social change in a place where various draconian laws has been imposed, many were killed by fake encounters and also even tried to eradicate the people of the state through various tactics since 1949 by mainland.
Highlighting the importance of Information Technology Manjit said that with the use of it we can know what was happening in various parts of the world. He also brought up the issue to bring an independent economy highlighting the enormous resources that Manipur has and appealed the people to build up a work culture attitude.
He concluded that they should fight the oppressor who tried to snatch the survival of indigenous people and to bring a strong bonding between the hill and the valley for a united Manipur.
Manjit finally concluded that JSCC will fight collectively to bring a new independent society.
Outgoing convenor of JSCC Ng. Milan President of MSF handed the charge to Manjit Sarangthem.

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AMSU elects new President, Office bearers

IT News
Imphal, March 29,

45th General Assembly election of All Manipur Students’ Union (AMSU) elects Peter Laishram as the New President of the student body.
An oath taking ceremony was held today at the Headquarter of the Union.
Peter Laishram said that he along with the newly executives of AMSU will primarily focus on the degrading education system of the state and the pending issues of the Citizenship Amendment Bill.
Huirongbam Priyananda and Makakmayum Abdul Hakim were the Vice President and Bipinchandra Ahanthem was elected as the Secretary General of the Union.

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KCP Nando escaped from custody is a threat to Manipur

“Justice delayed is justice denied.” William Ewart Gladstone the then Prime Minister of Britain wrote. It’s over 100 years that the political thinker had written this sentence understanding the needs for rendering of justice to the victims without delay. And the delayed in delivering justice to baby Lungnila Elizabeth has now been denied as the prime accused has been escaped.
2017 AD, the current year, where communication technology reached its peak, where people across the globe are fighting for human values and rights, when political leaders promise justice for all, where human rights is the concerns for the world community, legal complicacies or perhaps system errors still leaves thousands in India deprive of what they deserve. Even dead souls would have floated between heaven and hell waiting for the judgment on where he would go.
Its over 16 years, that soulless death body of 8 years old Lungnila Ellizabeth, a student of class IV of Little Flower School, Imphal was found at Tera Sadokpam Leikai here in Imphal. The Indian system detent the culprits , who were reportedly involved  in the killing of the minor without delivering justice for 16 plus year.
The year 2003, the year at which the minor girl was found death, cry for justice by punishing the culprits filled the air of the state. The inhuman heinous killing had shocked almost all people of the state and the thirst for blood of those child murderers joined the law enforcers in hunting them.
The kind of uprising was not because, father of Lungnila Ellizabeth was a Minister of that time, but because no people in the state ever thought that there would be animals minded human being who can kill an innocent child for money.
The poor angel was allegedly kidnapped by the bloody murderers for ransom of Rs. 10 lakhs. She was kidnapped by the bloody murderers on November 4 of 2003 and her death body was found on November 12, 2003. Only God knows how the innocent child was kept in custody for 7 days by the gruesome murderers.
After so many years 3 out of 4 accused were in judicial custody after one accused identified as O. Deven @ Arnold committed suicide. And of the three accused the mastermind criminal identified as Th. Nando escaped from the judicial custody at RIMS where he was reportedly undergoing treatment for over 4 months.
May be because the then state law enforcers are not very efficient in dealing with the case, the case had been handed over to CBI on February 6, 2006. Since then, the trial of the four accused namely Thokchom Nando, Letkhosei Haokip @ James Kuki and Ningthoujam Rome Meitei are being conducted in Special Court, CBI, here in Imphal. Nando’s escaped is a great threat to the people of the state as everyone knows his capacity of committing crime even he was in jail. Murder , extortion and killing occurred in the state have his name involved when he was in jail. One wander the kind of criminal activities that Nando may carried out if he is let free.
By now, many of the classmates of Lunilla Elizabeth may have been in government service or may be doing higher studies. For sure some of them might have been in the investigating agency or some may be in the Judiciary service. This is being said because if she survives she would be 22 years old by now.
The escaped of the main accuse speaks volumes and people suspect a conspiracy as election time is coming. Lets watch and see but let’s not waste without showing our effort in delivering justice to our daughter.

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