A dispassionate view of the blockade
It has been more than 60 days, since the All Naga Student’s Association of Manipur (ANSAM) enforced an economic blockade beginning from 11 April 2010, this year. Their justification for doing so was that the impending local body elections would suppress their tribal rights, putting councils inferior to Panchayats in the Valley. It intensified the blockade when the State Government declared that it would not allow NSCN (IM) leader Thuingaleng Muivah to visit his ancestral village in Somdal in Ukhrul district of Manipur. Whereas a symbolic blockade of a day or two to highlight the issue and express their sentiments goes well within the peaceful democratic practice, a prolonged economic blockade has deeper implications and ramifications.
Can the economic blockade on the only NH-39 which is a lifeline to 2.5 million people be justified for achieving anybody’s political aims ? To make matters worse, the alternative NH-53 which connects Imphal with Silchar in Assam was also blocked by the Naga Student’s Assn. Being the leader of an armed political group does not place anyone above the law. Mr Muivah has a different status only in Nagaland because of the CF agreement with the GoI. Elsewhere in country he is like any other citizen on whom there are many pending court cases. He is answerable for more than 2000 killings in Manipur in 1990′s, in addition to 200 odd in Nagaland and Manipur prior to that. There are other insurgent groups leaders who are living outside the country, who are being caught and being tried under law and declared detenus under NSA too. Won’t they claim similar treatment as Th Muivah expects from the Government ? The law of the land applies equally to all and Muivah is bound to be arrested and put on trial for the offences pending against him. We are living in a civilised society, Mr Muivah so civic rules have to apply.
There is an acute shortage of all essential commodities resulting in sky rocketing of prices. The hospitals in Imphal are bereft of medicines, even common antibiotics. There is an acute shortage of life saving drugs and oxygen cylinders. Petrol is being sold at rate of Rs 170/- per litre and some commercial ventures promise ten litres of petrol for free, if a refrigerator is bought from them. An LPG cylinder costs up to Rs 1500/- and a kg of coarse rice costs Rs 50/-. The common man with his per capita income much below the ones published by the Ministry of planning is the worst hit of all.
It has been very naive on Mr Muivah’s part to expect that he would be welcomed with open arms. If he is serious to visit his birth place the wiser thing to do is to express a desire to open dialogue process with all the communities of the State. For their part, the Meiteis also have to practice “reciprocal restraint’ and refrain from painting the Nagas as their enemies. If Muivah proclaims himself as an advocate of peace, he should practice peaceful means like self restraint and Gandhian philosophy rather than forcing people to support blockade of the Highway and other protests through the fear of his armed NSCN (IM) cadres lurking in the background. He must know that Gandhi had no stooges like the NSCN (IM) to conduct his peaceful activities. What he used was the power of his character and support of his people and not armed cadres like NSCN (IM) lurking in the background.
Trade between the hill districts and the Imphal valley is also critical. The State of Manipur has always been constricted by economic blockades in the past decade. Muivah while performing such acts should realise that even the Nagas living in Manipur are adversely affected by his actions. The Government may remove the so called ‘taken note of camps’ within Manipur as NSCN (IM) and Muivah have indulged in gross violation of CF rules.
What have you achieved Muivah ? You have become even more notorious. A situation has come where even ‘your own people’ will close their doors to you if, they come to know that you have plans to ‘visit’ their village. The communities of Manipur have also shown you that you cannot create a divide amongst them. So better think of good of all community as a whole for peaceful co-existence.
Mrs Gloria Vincent
Govt. High School Kohima