Showing posts from April, 2011

Meetei Mayek : a brief history

Dhiren Sadokpam

It is indeed difficult to trace the exact period of the origin of the Meetei Mayek. The burning of vital historical documents or the Puyas of Kangleipak (Manipur) written in Meetei Mayek during the reign of King Pamheiba in the early 18th century, made the effort all the more difficult. The earliest use of Meetei Mayek is dated between 11th and 12th centuries AD. A stone inscription found at Khoibu in Tengnoupal district contains royal edicts of Kiyamba - this was the beginning of Chietharol Kumbaba - the Royal Chronicle of Manipur.

According to the very few Puyas that survived, such as, Wakoklon Thilel Salai Singkak, Wakoklol Thilel Salai Amailon, Meetei Mayek comprised of 18 alphabets. Even during the reign of King Pamheiba (1709-1748), all documents were written in these 18 alphabets. Pamheiba embraced Hinduism in 1717. Few years after this, he ordered the destruction of pre-Hindu places o…


Anil Kamboj
October 2004
Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses


The recent developments in Manipur have once again brought into focus the question of application of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act 1958 (AFSPA) in Northeast India. On July 11, 2004, the alleged rape and killing of Thanjam Manorama, suspected to be a cadre of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), sparked agitations throughout Manipur for the withdrawal of the AFSP Act from Manipur.

Due to the disturbance and insurgency in the state, the Government of India promulgated the Armed Forces Special Powers Act 1958 in Manipur State. Since 1980, the whole of Manipur has been a “disturbed area”1 under the Act. Vide this Act,2 the security forces have been given some extra powers so as to operate against the insurgents in the disturbed areas.

Militarism and the Future of Democracy in Manipur: Impressions from the Field

Namrata Goswami
April 11, 2011
The Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses

While most of the states in Northeast India are slowly but steadily edging towards the resolution of the multiple armed conflicts that have plagued them for decades, Manipur continues to remain unstable. In Assam, the dialogue process is underway with the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA). In Nagaland, peace talks between the Union Government and the National Socialist Council of Nagalim--Isak-Muivah (NSCN-IM) have witnessed significant progress in recent months. In Manipur, on the other hand, while Suspension of Operations (SoO) have been signed with the Kuki armed groups, the Meitei armed groups like the United National Liberation Front of Manipur (UNLF), the Revolutionary People’s Front (RPF) and its armed wing the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), the People’s Revolutionary Party of Kangleipak (PREPAK) and the Kanglei Yawol Kanna Lup (KYKL) have not signed any ceasefire or SoO with the Union governmen…

Northeast in the news again

By Sevanti Ninan
The Hindu
June 5 2010

As Manipur and Nagaland get locked on a collision course, how much does the mainstream know of the issues involved to cover it sensitively and intelligently? Not much, going by the coverage…

The action is in Manipur and on the border, the angst is in Nagaland. The stand-off between the NSCN (I-M) and the Manipur government which has led to a continuing blockade of goods going to Manipur is a challenge for the media on both sides. What stand does the media within a state take on a conflict with another state? Should it be objective or parochial? The media in Nagaland can hardly ignore the extraordinary human situation that has developed in the neighbouring state, and has written on it, but the newspapers here have learned to be careful when they deal with the demands of Naga groups. An editor spoke off the record of the gross human rights violation that the blockade constituted of the people of Manipur, but said writing about it in those terms was…

Manipur: no exit at the end of the road

By M. S. Prabhakara
The Hindu
May 20 2010

The Mao Gate confrontation is just one instance of the bind which absolutist ideologies can lock themselves into.

Pradip Phanjoubam, Editor of the English Daily Imphal Free Press, bicycles to his office and everywhere else in Imphal. Sananami Yambem, who recently took voluntary retirement from NABARD, walks. So do many others in Imphal and other places in Manipur who for long had used motorised transport.

These choices have been forced on them. NH-39 is the principal highway from the rest of India into the State. NH-53 (the New Cachar Road) linking Cachar in Assam to Imphal is another lifeline, though it is longer and less preferred. There is yet another point of entry, going all the way into Mizoram and entering Churachandpur district.

The uniqueness of the political geography of the State is that Manipur is at the end of a receiving chain of roads, and on the edge of the periphery of the Indian state. Most essential goods come into Manipur; …

Little Knowledge: Empty vessels make too much noise

Hueiyen Lanpao
May 19 2010

Truly, Manipur is a wonderful piece of land on earth. Endowed with naturally beautiful landscapes, captivating flora and fauna, among which are included various plants and flowers, and animals of the rarest kinds and species, not available anywhere else in the world, images of all of which are reflected on the largest fresh water lake in the entire South East Asia–Loktak lake, Manipur should indeed be a place of envy for many peoples outside. Remember Siroy lily, Dzuko lily, rare orchids, Sangai, the brow-antlered deer, etc. They all belong to Manipur, and are not available anywhere else. Apart from those naturally heart-stealing entities, we have another equally breathtaking mosaic of cultures belonging to different communities and tribes moulded into one society and one culture of Manipur. Remember how famous the art and culture of Manipur, which include Manipuri dance, other tribal dances, etc are all over the world, not just in India. Then there's t…

Reinventing Ourselves

The Imphal Free Press
May 14 2010

Manipur is today having an experience of what the reality would be if it were to be independent. It is no point shifting the responsibility for this sorry predicament to the past or to the key dramatis personae of a bygone era, for even if the present troubles have a genesis in the doings of external forces, it would not help to hide behind this lame alibi anymore. The only way forward is to take stock of the present and reinvent itself in a manner that would equip it to meet the future from a commanding position. In any case, even if politics in the state had been allowed to develop without any interference, there is no guarantee that the situation would not have been as bad or worse. Like it or not, Manipur is a divided house and the seed for this division was visible even before the pivotal Merger with the Indian Union as evident in the unruly fight over representation in the then Assembly. Today, the liberation that a section of the population see…

Sitting on a keg of gun powder

The Sangai Express
May 11 2010

As we had said before, there would be no winner in the stand off between the proposed visit of NSCN (IM) leader Th Muivah to his birth place, for now it is more than clear that it is the common people on either side of the Lim divide who have been suffering the most. At the moment, two families have already lost their beloved sons and nothing can be more tragic than the death of two young, innocent persons at the hands of security forces, which is there in the first place to ensure the safety and security of the commoners. It is another matter that this has been turned on its head for it is right before our eyes to see and ears to hear that the security forces or personnel are mainly utilised for the VVIPs, who zoom their way around Imphal and elsewhere. Petrol being sold in the black market at Rs 150 per litre, a filled LPG cylinder being sold at Rs 1000 at the least,* prices of essential commodities rising well beyond the reach of the common people, Go…

Nation and State

The Imphal Free Press
May 11 2010

Political science students would vouch that between the “state” and the “nation”, there is a sea of difference. The “nation” is an imagined community as Benedict Anderson says, and indeed it is this imagination which binds together people into political identities. After all, how many people can an individual know personally and strike up rapport with? If the average of contacts saved in individual cell phones were to be taken for the entire Indian nation, probably it would be about 300 or less. Yet, the nation is over a billion strong, and all are supposed to share bondage of a common identity. This feat only “imagining” can achieve. But for this imagined community to have a tangible sustainable architectural, it must have a state as its backbone. The state in this sense is a political mechanism invariably involving a centralised bureaucracy (or government) with a definite hierarchy of functionaries and institutions to run its political and economic …

Manipur at the verge of complete breakdown

Asian Human Rights Commission
May 10 2010

The ongoing economic blockade enforced by All Naga Student Association Manipur (ANSAM) and others in the Indian state of Manipur since 11 April 2010 has pushed the people in the state to the verge of existence. The state-wide strike organised by the ANSAM blocking roads and highways, national highway 39 and 53, which are the only lifeline of Manipur, has resulted in acute shortage of food, medicine and other essential commodities in the state.

Manipur is a state where ordinary life is marred with extreme forms of violence ranging from abduction to murder committed by state and non-state actors. The strike led by the ANSAM has added further miseries to the people's lives. In remote hill districts like Tamenglong, even the government food storage facilities are empty since the past few weeks. In Imphal, the capital city, the government and private hospitals have closed down emergency services. Within the next few days they will be unable to …

Caught Between Terror & Xenophobia

by Patricia Mukhim [Editor, The Shillong Times]
The Imphal Free Press
May 4 2010

This article, like many others, is not a meticulous documentation of the historical facts of Manipur and the bitter aftermath of the romantic history of a lost kingdom. Several fact-finding teams have visited Manipur for various reasons and given their considered opinion about what ails the state. The Justice Jeevan Reddy Commission toured the entire region after a protest by naked Manipuri women who called for a repeal of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958. In November 2009, Dr KS Subramanian, IPS (retd), formerly of the Manipur-Tripura cadre and now a visiting professor at Jamia Milia University, also visited Manipur to assess the situation after a section of the media created a national uproar about the encounter killings where an alleged ex-militant was gunned down in broad daylight and a pregnant woman was killed in the crossfire. The problem with all such visits is that the report is handed…

Tragedy of Conflict

The Imphal Free Press
May 4 2010

The commotion and anxiety over the proposed visit of the NSCN(IM) general secretary, Thuingaleng Muivah to his home village as well as a tour of three other Naga dominated districts, verge on the tragic. It tells of the extremely divergent and antagonistic ethnic politics which have been allowed to grow, and in fact often nurtured in the decades that have gone by. It is today merely a matter of wishful thinking to imagine a situation in which it was possible for a chief minister of Manipur to invite men like Muivah for discussion and advice on the common welfare of the common people of the state and the immediate region, rather than oppose his proposal for a tour of his home. But this can only happen if there is some convergence of visions and goals, and it sad to say that at this moment the visions and goals are mutually exclusive. That is to say the realisation of the NSCN(IM) goal would mean a defeat for Manipur and the success of Manipur would mean…

Us and them

The Imphal Free Press
April 14 2010

A one-day seminar on “Peace Dividends” in Imphal today, organised by the Manipur government was rewarding. Peace is and should be everybody’s vested interest. Although there is no doubt there are powerful interests that make huge profits out of war economy, even these men and women do what they do in the name of Peace. The movie “Blood Diamond” couldn’t have been more eloquent on this. The point is, the search for Peace is important, especially for a violence ravaged state like Manipur, and any discourse on how to achieve it, and what must go into any meaningful search for it, is worth the while. With the advantage of a regular column to write in, we take the privilege to ruminate on some of the interesting points thrown up, ones which were not thrashed out adequately for want of time. One of these was a question raised from the audience pertaining to the seemingly unbridgeable chasm between “us” and “them” or to further simplify it, between “I” and…

Parasitic elements

The Sangai Express
April 14 2010

The observation of Governor Gurbachan Jagat at a seminar held in Imphal fittingly under the theme ‘Peace Dividend’ that there are elements who wants to prolong the conflict situation for their own vested interest could not have come at a more opportune moment. This is a fact, which needs to be digested by all, the politicians, the police, especially the upper echelons of the force, the para-military force as well as those who have taken up the gun to wage a war against the country, for a cause they believe in. The Governor’s observation aptly fits the situation in Manipur today. The emerging class of the nouveau rich, the fly by night operators and those who stick their neck out to go around serving demand notes for a commission will certainly come under the category of people who have reaped dividends from the conflict situation. Then there is the other class, which is more dangerous and more irritating. This class consists of some desperadoes who gat…

Enigma of Life

The Imphal Free Press
March 26 2010

Don’t take life too seriously; nobody gets out of it alive. It is never certain who originally coined these much used words, although something in this line “No one here gets out alive” was the title of the first biography of the late Jim Morrison the lead lyricist and founder of the enigmatic Los Angeles rock band of the 1960s and 1970s, The Doors, by journalist Jerry Hopkins. A fitting title to a book dedicated to a man who must be one of the best exponents of the philosophy contained in the simple thought. This thought should instil humility in anybody sensitive enough, for in the end, death levels out everything. Yet few bother. The eternal paradox of life is such that nothing seems to matter except life, and the fear of the certainty of death remains generally repressed. Although repressed, let it however not be said that death is not feared. If this were so, terrorism of the state or non-state would make no sense. Those of us in violence torn …

Standstill Agreement / Reflections on India

The Imphal Free Press
March 23 2010

An article by a foreign travel writer, Sean Paul Kelley, which this newspaper reproduced in its Sunday edition [read Reflections on India below], damned the lack of concern for public good of Indians in general. There are dime a dozen such articles, but this one was different for the fact that it was not written by somebody embittered with India. It also contained a whole lot of truth uncomfortable to Indians but one which the author felt was an attribute which would drag the country down. The article is worth the while because it puts up a mirror for Indians to have a peep into their souls and retrospect. We are here however interested in narrowing down the canvas to Manipur – which incidentally local politicians with a discernable sense of pride and in the same breath, a disguise defensive flattery meant as an overt statement of loyalty to nation – often refer to as a miniature India. Yes, at least on this count, the scenario is a ditto for Manipu…

Sovereignty and integrity of Manipur

by Waikhom Damodar Singh
The Sangai Express
March 23 2010

Muwapalli, Tillikotomhal or Tillikotom Ahanba, Poireipak, Kangleipak, Meitreibak etc were the names that are said to have been assigned earlier to the hoary and unique “hilly-land” now called Manipur which, according to learned K Prongo of Deulaland, Imphal should be called “Haoreibak”, the land of the Hill peoples. While the truth underlying in his frank suggestion is fully appreciated it is to say that since the land has been the dwelling place of all the indigenous peoples, the Chingmis (Haos) in the Hills and the Tammis, the people in the valley from the very early period who lived together very harmoniously and with very loving relations as the two “inseparable brethren” of the same parents and family it should be more appropriate to call it “Chingmi-Tammi-Lam (Land) or Ram as an euphonic variant”, if a change in the name Manipur is preferred at all. Whatever may it be, the fact that remains crystal clear is that it existe…

Who cares for the State?

The Sangai Express
March 12 2010

With the fiscal year 2009-10 literally closing over us very soon, the State is looking at the stark reality of forfeiting itself a huge amount of fund sanctioned by the Centre for several schemes and projects, all because the State Government has no aptitude to utilise sanctioned funds in time. This is not a new story. At the end of every financial year, the crisis caused by inability to use sanctioned funds completely has been recurring unfailingly. One may call it lack of skill or commitment on the part of the State Government, the inability to use funds in time has far-reaching impacts on the economy and overall development trajectory of the State. It is only obvious that failure to use sanctioned amounts means delay in completion of projects which also entails escalation in the project costs. It seems the importance of time factor is still missing from the psyche of our elected leaders and officials. Now it has become a foregone conclusion that hug…