Proscribed group Revolutionary Peoples’ Front is observing its 36th Foundation Day on February 25 as ‘Independence Demand Day’. On the occasion president of the outfit Irengbam Chaoren sent message to the people of the region elaborating on its movement against the Indian government. Attached below is the content of the message –
“Beloved compatriots, At the very outset I would like to convey my deepest regards to all the people of Manipur subjugated by the colonial rule.
“One anxious question which has been constantly tormenting our mind is ‘when would we achieve our independence’. This anxiety itself is a testimony of the fact that Manipuri people are suffering under colonial rule. Again our continuous engagement with the question of Manipur’s sovereignty testifies that freedom is dearest to our people. At the same time, the colonial rule has been conspiring to exploit this common anxiety to their advantage. In tandem with the economic growth of India, our natural resources, lakes, mountains and forests are being robbed away right in front of our eyes. In the process, a comprador class has been gaining strength out of economic packages, research projects, schemes and infrastructure development projects doled out by the colonial masters.
“The colonial rule has been working overtime to demoralize and suppress the revolutionary movement. The question of freedom of all those nations which were left out of the decolonization process in the aftermath of the Second World War is still very much alive. In fact, the questions of sovereignty for Northern Ireland, Basque, Zapatista, Aceh, Kashmir, Assam, Manipur and many other nations are becoming graver day by day. Political transformation brought about by the Second World War across the planet presents a very difficult and complicated existential crisis to all those nations who are still struggling for independence. Disintegration of the Soviet Union in the early 1990’s paved way for capitalism and capitalist interests to infiltrate into every sphere of man’s life throughout the world. Infiltration by capitalist interests produced serious impacts on liberation movements in different geographical locations of the planet. In addition to the classical understanding of colonialism, a new variant called Neo-liberalism where the wealthy capitalist class supersedes the society and the masses started infesting the nations which are already reeling under colonial rule.
“The situation is quite similar to 18th century Europe where all the factories, mills and means of production were controlled by a wealthy few. In addition to physical occupation through military forces, colonial regimes are being sustained through international banks, financial institutions and corporate bodies. It is now a reality. International Financial Institutions (IFIs) have started invading Western South East Asia (WESEA) including Manipur. Of the total money invested by Asian Development Bank (ADB) in India during 1986-2011, 34.64 per cent was in energy sector. Transport and Telecommunications made up 30.89 per cent. Maximum share of ADB’s investment in WESEA (North East) goes to energy and transport. This is a matter of serious concern. Maximum investment in energy and transport sectors in a region where there is little or no industrial productivity is an undeniable manifestation of the Government of India’s ploy to exploit the resources of WESEA for a protracted period in collusion with developed countries. As concomitant impacts of this ploy, more and more hill areas of Manipur are being militarized and numerous colonies of Indian immigrants are being planted at the project sites and elsewhere.
“Countries which have had experience of colonialism often took the form and character of their colonial masters after achieving independence, for instance India. Manipur, Tripura, Kashmir and many other nations which regained sovereignty after the departure of British colonial rulers were forcibly annexed by India. After the forced annexation in 1949, Manipur was fast transformed into a dependent economy and our people are being suppressed under the boots of Indian military forces. The incompatibility and conflict between WESEA and India have been demonstrated time and again beyond any doubt by the acts of discrimination and racism meted out to people from WESEA in different parts of India. Rather than accepting that racism is ingrained in their worldview, majority of the Indian people have been trying to project people from WESEA as inferior to them racially and culturally. Different forms and dimensions of people’s struggles are all reflections of the armed revolutionary movement. All these people’s struggles collectively crystallize the future of the armed revolution. Many youths who passed out from different colleges and universities of India understand the legitimacy of the armed movement and they have been continually taking up arms against the colonial regime. Our people, our students and our mothers and sisters have been struggling to free themselves from this wretched, bonded life.
“In all nations which are struggling for independence, the masses and the freedom fighters share a close-knit intrinsic relationship. In Manipur where a violent storm of liberation movement has been brewing for quite some time, people are ready to sacrifice everything for the sake of freedom and right to self-determination. This is no exaggeration. Our glorious history is a living testimony and the same legacy is very much alive today. There is no dearth of armed freedom fighters in Manipur as there is a well-defined course of revolutionary movement and a very clear objective. Here it will be worthwhile to recall Cuban revolutionary leader Fidel Castro’s statement: “Together with 82 people, I brought a successful revolution in Cuba. The number of people does not count, what matters is faith in the revolutionary movement”.
“As a revolutionary group, RPF shares an umbilical relationship with our masses. It is this relationship which has been strengthening and sustaining the liberation movement. Again it is this filial relationship which makes the liberation movement a movement of the masses. RPF has been striving relentlessly to strengthen this relationship and the party is well aware that it is fully dependent on the masses just like fishes cannot survive in the absence of water. The inseparable bond shared between the revolutionaries and the masses will ultimately propel the liberation movement to its greatest heights. In such a scenario, there would be no distinction between revolutionaries and our suffering masses or non-combatants. In another word, civilians will become freedom fighters directly or indirectly. Civilians or neutral population will disappear when the liberation movement reached its zenith. It is this socio-political condition where the revolutionaries and civilians cannot be distinguished which is feared the most by the Indian State. That is why, the Government of India and its puppet local Government have been consistently scheming to draw a line of segregation between revolutionaries and the masses.
“The armed movement for right to self-determination of Manipur is today known far and wide across the planet. On account of the prolonged colonial rule, all administrative departments have become highly corrupted beyond any hope of redemption. Lives of many innocent people were cut short abruptly and without any honour. A number of people who were picked up by security forces disappeared without any trace only to resurface as skeletal remains at camps which were/are occupied by Indian military forces and their stooges. Social activists and scholars who have the audacity to protest or critique against people’s sufferings and repressive measures are being singled out and victimized by the Indian State. Given these harsh realities and the undeniable political history of Manipur, right to self-determination is a legitimate and indispensable right of our people.
“Since the past many years, several powerful agencies and colonial instruments are being employed by the Indian State to subjugate our masses and ultimately filter out the idea and yearning for independence from the political moorings of the society. To achieve their objective, Indian agents have been drawing artificial lines of division between different communities of Manipur, and the State’s economy and natural resources have been taken under their complete control. Driven by the greed of capitalism, Indian capitalist class and their local cohorts have been exploiting our resources. In the name of people’s welfare, the Indian State has been following a Neo-liberal policy where a few capitalists decide the fate of the vast majority. Through this Neo-liberal policy, the Indian State and their products have completely dominated and overwhelmed the markets of Manipur which was once self-reliant. In the name of development programmes which are based on the fundamental concepts of capitalism, the Indian State has been employing all available means to suppress the liberation movement of Manipur. After re-defining Look East Policy as Act East Policy, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been bargaining with the neighbouring countries of WESEA to help the Indian State suppress the revolutionary movements of WESEA in exchange for economic benefits, trade and commerce. Our people must be on guard against this new policy of India’s BJP Government.
“We can also see different aspects of cultural subjugation by the Indian State with the help of its military might. India had the intention to colonise Manipur, Assam, Tripura and other ancient kingdoms of the region since the very early period. India has been following different policies of cultural hegemony since the 18th century. And today, these policies of cultural hegemony are being used as powerful tools for consolidating and sustaining their colonial rule in WESEA. This cultural invasion needs serious introspection and analysis.
“In view of the changing socio-political and economic scenario across the planet, our society must evolve and adapt with a vision for the future. One dimension of social evolution which demands extra attention is ‘identity’. Our people must devise a collective defence mechanism from the all-pervasive onslaught of globalization otherwise our nation would be condemned to doom. We must enhance our productivity (both agricultural and industrial), make our markets more vibrant and dynamic, and build a strong economic foundation.
“Our people are being compelled to look up to the Indian people and their cultural practices as role model while all our economic activities have been made dependent on the Indian State’s planning. This has a direct bearing on our identity. In addition to limitations associated with small territorial size, limited resources, small population, disunity, underdevelopment and poverty, our society is now being besieged by social and cultural imperialism.
“Social ethos of Manipuri people who were once known for their profound love for dignity and self-respect has degenerated to such an extent that many people are unashamed to plead, beg and play sycophancy for some material benefits. By dismantling traditional value systems which were rooted in lofty ideals, a large section of our people have re-invented themselves as copy-cats blindly emulating foreign (Indian) culture and traditions which are not at all suitable to the soil of Manipur. They have no time to ponder over the fading culture, tradition and identity of the nation. Manipuri people who once lived as a proud, independent nation are being governed by outsiders and we are tamely following their diktats as if we are born slaves. It is simply ridiculous that many think unfurling the Indian flag at the sacred Kangla would bring about greater rewards from the colonial masters.
“It’s not the time to keep the nation which has a proud, unbroken written history of more than 2000 years divided and polarized on ethnic lines. Rather than separating the nation under the generic terms ‘Naga’, ‘Kuki’, ‘Meitei’ and ‘Meitei Pangals’, it’s time to mould a collective identity of a unified Manipur. Unity and only unity among the indigenous people can secure us and our future from the doom which is lurking quite distinctly on the horizon of our socio-economic and political landscape. “