Naga people’s wish is clear (Response to Romesh’s article)
We thank you for the issues raised in these pieces and hope that you will accord the same opportunity to take along the debate further.
Mr Khangembam Romesh, in his piece has raised the issue of “sincerity” on the part of the Central Government and NSCN (IM). He also further goes on to talk about the validity or invalidity of his tour to be judged in light of particular laws.
If I have not misunderstood, the same yardstick of sincerity, perhaps, should be applied to the Meeteis and the various Meetei civil societies as well. If my memory is not wrong, the whole of Manipur, particularly the valley, was jumping up and down over Ibobi’s blatant disregard for the rights of the people some months ago following the July 23 incident. Again, if I am not wrong, the arguments of the people’s right to decide, the legitimacy of the acts of the Government in the absence of people’s support, the primacy of democratic principles and rule of law were all shouted hoarsely by the people in Imphal valley.
Where are all these principles now?
Just because Nagas are not Meeteis, these principles should not hold true for the Nagas? Mr Romesh, you took such pains to point out the difference between “terrorists” and “normal” people. Who determines who is a “terrorist”? The state? If it is the state, I also remember the police arresting many Meetei leaders from AMUCO and UCM, booking them under various anti-terror laws and declaring them as terrorists. Are they terrorists just because the state says so? If it is not the state, then who determines? You and your majority Meetei community? If so, why should the Meeteis cry hoarse over the violation of democratic rights and freedoms when you yourself do not follow it?
Where is the “sincerity” of Meetei civil societies like AMUCO and UCM who have been fighting against militarization, opposing AFSPA, and protesting against the Ibobi government’s excessive use of police forces against civilians? Where is the “sincerity” of Meetei groups who have been howling over the Meetei’s right to self-determination? Where is the sincerity in allowing military forces to come in and mow down innocent civilian, just because they are Nagas and not Meeteis? Meeteis have the right to self-determination but Nagas do not, where is the sincerity in that argument?
Where is the sincerity in the Meetei’s claim of “Ching-Tam Amadani” when such a relationship is presupposed by the Meetei’s claim of dominance over those living in the hill districts and their constant attempts to control what happens in the hills instead of letting people in the hills decide their own fate?
Where is the sincerity when your leading organizatons were trying their utmost to break Ibobi’s government some months ago accusing it of various illegalities and now, these very organisations are supporting his state terrorism policies just because they are directed against the Nagas? Where is the sincerity when the Meetei public accused the IRB and Manipur Police Commandos as lawbreakers some months ago and now they are touted as law-keepers?
You mentioned the killing of Dr. Kishan but is his life worth more because he is a Meetei and not just some helpless daily wage earner from the “desh” shot dead arbitrarily by “unidentified” gunmen? Where did all the vocal individuals and organizations go when Prof. Islamuddin was shot dead? Was the silence because he was a Pangal? The complicity of some IRB personnel was revealed in the killing of Prof. Islamuddin, and these are the very same persons who are rampaging, looting, and killing people in Mao Gate, and yet you celebrate their maintenance of law and order now because it is happening far away from the valley? Where is the sincerity? I would think that all life is sacrosanct, and the human rights of all individuals are universal and the same.
You let the Nagas know this and then, maybe only then, we can talk about sincerity more completely.
Mr. Romesh, you should, perhaps examine yourself in the light of your own statement that “The kind of understanding a person will have of his own identity is irreducibly distinct from the sort of understanding he can have of the identity of other people”. Your argument, taken to its logical end, would mean that a person is never wholly able to appreciate the difference existing in other people because he views their identity as distinct, and hence never able to understand the other person fully. If this is so, how can you even claim to say that Muivah is different from you? And yet you claim with such conviction that “the past and present life of Muivah” is “wholly different from what we are.”
Reaction to an editorial in the Hueiyen Lanpao.
It is stated that, “Only two parties can ease the tension. They are-the Government of India and the General Secretary of NSCN-IM, Th Muivah.” For all Nagas, the only party creating problems is the Government of Manipur. You talk of letting Muivah come back in “happy times”. Whose “happy times”? For Meeteis? The Editorial also said the Government of Manipur and the people would do anything to stop Muivah from entering the state. What people are you talking about? Is that including Nagas? I thought the wishes of the Naga people are very clear, they want Muivah to come so where will you accommodate this when you grandly imply the wishes of the people?
Your editorial further stated, “Therefore, the Government of Manipur should naturally take up security measures to protect the state’s territory, boundary and people.” You go on in the same breath to add that “Thursday’s casualties that occurred at Mao were the natural outcome of such a state action.” Would you say that protecting the people of Mao is not a part of such responsibilities, that killing of innocent civilians is protecting? Protection of the rights and lives of people, I thought, would suffer no hypocrisy or different standards but your argument seems to imply that it is ok to kill people in the periphery such as the Nagas as long as they are not Meeteis.
It is because of double standards like these that Nagas are disillusioned with the Government of Manipur. I am sorry to say but I did not expect an editorial of Hueiyen Lanpao, which I have come to respect for its objective reporting, would go on to concretise the biases that divides the hills and the valley in Manipur.
I hope such bias commentary will not be repeated again.