Aren’t we the legitimate citizens of Manipur ?

by Sonia Oinam
June 11 2011
The Sangai Express

Reading the article “Why there will be Manipur forever - Undivided” by Dr. Irengbam Mohendro Singh has given me some foods for thought and thereby has resulted in this article.

Herein, I am raising the question if we are legitimate citizens of Manipur? If we are, then are we the right citizens at the wrong place, or ideal citizens with no will to bring up means and solutions to our existing problems; are we aware of what is happening around us or are we so dumb and so innocent? Do we realise the forces that are pulling us apart? What are we supposed to do, what can we do? Will Manipur flourish?

One of the main threats to Manipur’s integrity is the demand of integration of Naga inhabited regions from neighbouring State of Nagaland. The scope of such disagreement has been opened by Article 3 of the Constitution of India empowering Parliament to alter the territory or integrity of its units, namely, the States, without their consent or concurrence. On one hand is the Naga bodies spearheading their self – determination, Naga integration via different tracks and courses. On the other hand, Manipur has its firm stance to protect its territorial integrity. History of Manipur has been recorded and written by historians, researchers and proudly affirms the facts and pacts of legitimate Manipur evolving from a sovereign kingdom to a Part C State to Union territory, then to a full- fledged State by 1972 with its intact “Territorial Integrity”. The historical journey and evolution has culminated in diversity of Manipur Society composed of different communities living in harmony. In fact, we often say India is a land of “Unity in Diversity”. Well said, then Manipur itself is a Mini-India, “Unity in Diversity”.

Manipur is inhabited by different ethnic and religious groups viz. Meiteis, Pangals, Kukis, Nagas, Nepalis, Bengalis, Sikhs, Jains, Marwaris, etc. A Manipuri calendar will give you holiday lists for Gaan-Ngai, Lui-Ngai- Ni, Yaoshang, Idul-Fiter, Idu-ul-Juha, Kut, Diwali, Christmas, Mahavir Jayanti and what not? We make friendships and bondings beyond our differences in culture and traditions and co-exist. Are we not a tolerant society; a society living in harmony, mixing up and building amicable relations. So, why should we listen to political agendas of self-proclaimed leaders. Were they appointed by God or the Government or by the people. Should we not withstand forces that pulls us apart, that sow seeds of bitterness, distrust and create disharmony amongst us.

If our hill brethrens are unhappy and feel that the Government is bias, then the Government should be alert, listen to the voices raised and take up concrete steps and actions to balm their sentiments and work sincerely to bring all round development in the hill districts. There is no option for lone progress if we want prosperity of our State. Making only tall claims about its stance to protect territorial integrity of Manipur without understanding the grievances and sufferings and without bringing equitable developments in the hills will only aggravate the situation.

The hilly terrains, the land-locked location of our State often ends up in disadvantage. Moreover, strangling the people of Manipur through blockades on National Highways for demands amounts to bullying and is indeed a violent act; hurting the masses, striking right at the stomach. The ambition of self-determination by destroying the age-long social fabric, composite structure of a legitimate state and peaceful co-existence definitely invites strong defence and united stance on part of all the citizens of Manipur for Manipur’s integrity. Will the course of demand of Naga sovereignty stirring towards Naga integration bear fruit, only time will tell.

Will the integration of all Meiteis or any other communities inhabiting territories not only in neighbouring North- Eastern states but in whole India be possible?? Because there are large chunks of Meiteis say for e.g., residing here and there and every nook and corner of India.

Well, the Central Government needs to answer this because Article 3 still holds good, right! right!!! I am just kidding, that is a silly question. Let us rather concentrate on fostering good ties and goodwill towards each other, co-existing and co-operating for collective progress of Manipur. Manipur is for all legitimate Manipuris; we are a family. I am reminded of the story of a man who was offered all the land he could walk on in a day provided he returned by sundown to the point where he had started. But his greed got him far from the starting point. Though he made it before sundown; he collapsed and died and all the land he needed was just a 6 ft small plot of land for his grave.

The dispute and proposed discussions will go on with the Government of Manipur as our chosen leader representing us and will lead us in the logical and political front. Identity is important; Individual identity, our lineage, culture, tradition and we have every right to protect it. There are various means and ways of promoting our unique identity, different culture, say through social interactions, festivals, arts, films, programmes, policies, etc. The Government must bear the responsibility to give space; formulate action plans, steps for preserving and safeguarding unique identities to maintain Unity in Diversity.

But what about Manipur’s identity? Manipur is for all Manipuris – talented, hard-working, resourceful, peace-loving citizens co-existing in this tolerant, composite culture. We as citizens are the roots, responsible for a strong foundation of our State. The struggle and motto of every citizen of Manipur should be to become a responsible person; who thinks globally and act locally, loving thy neighbours. Each one of us should aspire to be the focus, the epicentre of an “Earthquake of Change” that shakes up the immediate vicinity, locality having far-reaching effects to all communities; spreading the wave of brotherhood, trust and peaceful co-existence. Let us channelize our energies and resources for the poor and needy through donation camps, knowledge – sharing camps, setting up of green and clean environment for children, old- age, for all and many many other things that can be done as our own little contributions through our creative minds and efforts.

Manipur is embroiled in such a difficult situation; I can’t imagine how long it will take to bring solution to the secessionist movements, disputes with neighbours, bridging the gap of equitable developments in the hills and plains, etc. As a citizen of Manipur; moreover as a patriotic citizen of our Motherland; I believe it is our duty to safeguard her, preserve the composite culture and protect her from being bruised and torn apart. The Government on top of the ladder has the responsibility to bring all round development for Manipur and leave no stone unturned to brush away the discontentment and distrust lingering among any communities. Dear fellowmen, yes, we are legitimate citizens of legitimate Manipur. We need to save our Manipur from drowning; we need our collective efforts, unity to solve the problems our state face today because we “Manipuris” do not lack anything and we can make it to the top. Let us not forget, “United we stand; divided we fall”.

The writer is a research scholar in Manipur University and can be reached at

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