PEACE IN MANIPUR; ITS DIFFERENT DIMENSIONS — A DISCOURSE

By Priyadarshni M Gangte
The Sangai Express
August 27 2011

"Peace cannot be kept by force. It can only be achieved by understanding"
– Albert Einstein.
The word “Peace” means freedom from cessation of war, i.e. peace with honour, peace at any price (J.B. Sykes (ed) : The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Current English (7th Edition), Oxford University Press, 1987, p.753). Leiren (Dr. L. Leiren’s Article, “Peace Education in the 21st Century.” Imphal Free Press, 1st Sept., 2006) has elegantly contended that “peace” as a comprehensive enterprise that requires a transformation in our thinking sense of valued wills, resources and solidarity of all. Thus, it is a way of life in which one experiences inner tranquility, harmonious relationships and an interconnectedness with the world. Moreover, the term connotes in the real sense a state of Being (Net). It is about honouring and nurturing our spiritual side.


As our topic concentrates solely around “Peace”, it is pertinent to have some more definition of the same (Net):

“Peace is associated with clarity, and with an inner stillness that often gives rise to playfulness and inspired activity. So, while peace does come from non-resistance and acceptance of what is, it is not necessarily a state of passivity; rather it gives rise to choices that are free from automatic resistance …”

“… peace means being at peace with whatever is going on, so that any individual is aware of her or his inner reactions and can respond from a place of compassion and understanding …”

“… an inner state in which we are calmly impervious to whatever comes into our awareness of a distressing or inharmonious nature …”

“… peace does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble or hard work. Peace means to be in the midst of all these things and still be calm in our heart. That is the real meaning of peace”, and,

* Presented in the 2-Day State Level Seminar on Kabow Valley and How To Bring Peace In Manipur, organised by Dr. Suresh; Centre for Foreign Studies And Placement in association with Cultural and Historical Research Trust, Manipur at the Central Library Hall, Imphal on 30-31st July, 2011.

“Peace means a quite stillness within oneself …, a completeness and a knowingness that everything is as it should be. A stillness so deep, that we know that each moment, each hour, each tomorrow is in this stillness waiting to blossom. Within this stillness there is no judgement, hatred, anger only a perfect stillness … a swelling of love …”

Before the advent of British rule in India, it was, of course, of varieties of small and big kingdoms, since the inception of sixteen Mahajanapadas with which led to the emergence of Maurya Empire in BC’s and still carrying her legacy upto the Mughal Empire. Such phenomenon have had not been witnessed or noticed by the North-eastern India, however in different ways of uniqueness these regions have their respective own histories. It will not wrong to say that independent India abruptly adopted democracy, without any having any taste and feel of the same. Further, after six decades and more being a democratic country masses in general and elite and other sections/groups in particular do not understand the actual meaning of democracy yet.

It is pathetic that the Indian State has not toed the democratic norms. Rather, on security point of view, the Indian state either simply copied the draconian laws of the colonial as referred by Baxi (Upendra Baxi : The Crises of the Indian Legal System, Delhi Law Review, 1982; p.43) and even made new extraordinary and harsher laws in maintaining law and order and tackling insurgency movements in the country. Some of these laws that have been quite abusively used – Punjab Security of State Act, 1953, The Assam Maintenance of Public Order (Autonomous Districts) Act, 1958, The Terrorist And Disruptive (Prevention) Act, 1987, The Prevention of Terrorism Ordinance (POTO), 2001, repealed etc, etc. It has been experienced oft and again that these extraordinary laws do not solve the problems of people’s dissent and insurgency movements. Instead the common people have been the victims of the atrocious laws. While the Terrorist and Disruptive (Prevention) Act, 1987 has lapsed after wide protests, the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958 is still being promulgated in various states, particularly, the North East India. Sharmila has been undergoing fast unto death for complete removal of the Act. Scores of concerned civil society organisations including Sharmila Kanba Lup and the intelligentsia among others have been launching movements against any further promulgation of such Act, the authority has ever been arrogant. In fact the Act does not tune with the social reality (B.B. Pandey, Right To Life On Death ? : For Bharat Both Cannot Be ‘Right’, Supreme Court Cases, Delhi Law Review, 1994, 4(SS(J); p.24). Thus, we experienced gross violation of human rights of the common peoples (Prakash Louis and R. Vashum : Extraordinary Laws In India, Indian Social Institute, New Delhi, 2004, p.9). Sanajaoba (Keynote address by Prof. N. Sanajaoba “Human Rights Standard- Setting, Constitutionalism And Repressive Laws in Armed Conflict Situation” in the Seminar-cum-Workshop on Human Rights And Repressive Laws at L. M. S. Law College, Imphal, Manipur with the Initiative from the Centre for Humanitarian Law Studies and Research, Law Faculty, Guwahati University, organized by the college on 28-29 October, 2004) observed “subjugation has become the political culture”.

As far as to bring peace in Manipur is concerned, we need to trace back the past historical event, that is, of course, the causes and consequences of what we are facing to-day. Moreover, deprivation of justices, particularly political, economic, social, etc. were on the high. It is an empirical fact, that Manipuris have been protesting against even the British regime, can be clearly known from events, the First and Second Nupilals, Anglo-Manipuri War, Anglo-Kuki War, Irawat’s and Zeliangrong movements. Despite this situation, Merger of Manipur to the Indian Dominion and placed as part C state also had added fuel to the fire. As a setback there came up the secessionist movements. Manipur being very aloof from others was also a economic backward state (Ksh. Bimola; while delivering speech on the subject “Political Movements in Manipur” in the Refresher course Programme of History Department, Manipur University conducted by the Department of History with sponsorship of U.G.C. on 7/3/2005).

What intelligentsia and policy of our areas especially Manipur, popularly believe the future prospects of development and political stability of our regions lie in the Look East Policy, is, however, Roy (The Future of North-East –Need to Look East or Look All Around, an article by Prof. J.J.Roy Burman published in the Sangai Express, Nov. 19, 2010) has flatly refuted that it cannot be a panacea to the lingering problem of North-East, apart from the pangs of formation of an arbitrarily created nation – State with artificial borders, lies in the imposition of a system of parliamentary democracy based on the colonial legacy of constituency formation that hinges on the population logic.

Moreover, absence of a smooth transition and the non-existence of a just outcome at the end of the tunnel have made our youths absolutely restless and prone to addiction to drugs (Amar Yumnam’s view in the Imphal Free Press titled Youths, Drugs and Justice : Absence of Smooth Transition, Sunday April 24, 2011) concentrating only on bringing to book the addicted youths through the strong hand of the law enforcing agencies would amount to addressing the substantive grievances without ever bothering at the root cause of the issues involved (Ibid). And obvious response of the UG ‘taxation’ to the present strategy of the Manipur Police would for it to go further underground (Culture of corruption and extortion – Hindrance to Social Progress – Paper presented by Pradip Phanjoubam in the Seminar-cum-Workshop on Human Rights and Repressive Laws, Initiated by CHLS&R Law Faculty, Gauhati University, organised by the college on 28-29 October, 2004).

Likewise, women related institutions starting from prostitution, extortions, trafficking of women to other states, involving in transporting arms and ammunition are the social menace of today’s society. It is pertinent to look into the cause of such activities and try to solve by the authority instead blaming or otherwise such as “selfish claiming”.

Human Right awareness is of course the need of the hour, every individual should be given the education of Human Right. State forces as well as the state actors are the one in their attitude towards masses. Thus Human Right should be incorporated in the text, curriculum, syllabus starting right from the grass-root level so that any discrepancy would not take place, any more by forces of different “departments” of “groups” (groups).

Apart from the death, the most hated Human Rights abuses committed by the security forces are the so-called “Punishment attacks” when people suspected of “antisocial behaviour” (usually young male) are shot or beaten, usually in or on the hand, kneecaps or ankles, ‘Third-degree torture’ methods are subjected to.

In relation to a number of high profile deaths, the government has reached very slowly to calls for public inquiries to determine whether there is any collusion. Thus, State forces should have a Serious Crime Review Team looking at unsolved killing and occasionally of course, the “Police Ombudsman”, may (better than the CBI) can help if new evidence to such deaths comes to light.

The Manipur Human Right Commission is urged to do the utmost to persuade and the state actors, the political parties and the community and voluntary sectors to its proposal for a Bill of Rights for Manipuris. Meanwhile, the commission should endeavour to urge still improvements in a variety of more specific content such as mental care and human rights education (edited by R.Kumar, A. Puri, S. Naithani : What Makes A Peace Process Irreversible – A Delhi Policy Group Publication – Delhi, 3, 2005, p.63).

Peace will prevail in Manipur when, inter alia, females are also honoured as ‘Devis’ (Goddesses) as apostles of peace and any attempt to touch them with carnal, pernicious, lusty, adulterous desire to enjoy with her body and spoil her sanctity and image, including dowry deaths and torture, domestic violence, mental harassment and all sorts of discrimination specially the abduction and kidnapping of women – extreme violation of human rights considered as the greatest sin (The International Journal of Peace Studies – edited by Paitoon Patyaiying, Charernpradit, Muang, Pattani 94000, Thailand, Vol.2, No.2, Dec. 1999; p.22).

Manipur is passing through one of the most critical periods in its long history, and as is usual with all transitional phases, is full of stress and uncertainty. what she needs today as never before in its history is intellectual, moral and spiritual guidance if it is to survive its own destruction. “Ethnic brotherhood concept” should be applied to all fields of human activity – politics, economics, sociology, science, education, etc, and then peace and prosperity will ultimately prevail. Every individual is a unity in the make up of family, societies, communities and nations, having being inspired and implemented their ideal into practical lives – resorted to a profound effect on the society, community and nation. Thus peace cannot be brought at all without individual peace.

Basic needs are the basic things required to living human beings, in particular of course, animals, plants and trees and environmental consequences and biodiversity in general. Let us observe what have eminent scholars opined : According to Baxi (Upendra Baxi’s article “Social Change, Criminality And Social Control in India, in the Essays on Crime And Development, ed by Ugljesa Zvekic, United Nation Interregional Crime Justice Research Institute, Rome, 1990, p.44) “basic needs” are the human rights, if not deemed by the State, then brings “consequent anarchy”, so the first and foremost duty of the authority is to consider “human rights” (K. Ponnuswami (ed) : Right To Basic Necessities Of Life, Delhi Law Review, Vol.10-11, 1981-82, Delhi University Press, Delhi – 7, 1983; p.3). Ibohal (Human Rights And Repressive Laws presented in the Seminar-cum-Workshop at L. M. S. Law College, Imphal organised by the College with the initiation from the centre for Humanitarian Law Studies and Research, Law Faculty, Gauhati
University on 28-29th October, 2004) also contended

“If a government violates and suppresses basic human rights and fundamental freedom people have a legitimate right to rebellion against such a government”.

Pande (B.B. Pandey, Professor of Law, Delhi University, while delivering his speech on Basic Needs on 8/4/1995, at Law Faculty Conference Hall, Campus Centre, Delhi University) has maintained that an individual’s basic need is his or her scheme of life. Basic needs must be treated as fundamental right. Whereas Karl Marx contended that the primary basic need is to have companion to perform productive work. And some of the recent writings, have focused on social needs in equality basis with full access to justice. Also, Amartya Sen, prefers and stresses to add another tier which describes as a meta right making possible to achieve the right. (Dworkien’s Theory of Background Rights and Institutional Rights – Website).

Moreover, in prioritizing human needs, the united nations has identified the following list of basic needs :- (i) Nutrition (ii) Shelter, (iii)health, (iv) education, (v) Leisure, (vi) Security (Physical safety and economic security and (vii) environment. And, of course, right to self-determination for “right” and basic needs are complimentary or obligatory to each other subject to unfulfilments of all the need, necessities of life by the authority. However, Conrad; while in his discourses clearly asserted that fulfillment. (K. Ponnuswami : (ibid)) by other social welfare countries like (Germany) / unfulfilment (India) of basic needs as guaranteed by the State is not in itself sufficient or likely to produce lasting social peace. It may be mentioned here, India having not ratified the entire covenant as yet has to explain its position on the matter to the effect that the reference to right of self-determination in Article of the International Covenant on, Economic, Social And Cultural Rights applied only to people under foreign domination, not to independent sovereign states or part of a people or nation. Moreover, in its report of 1991, India was to explain violation of Human Right due to enforcement of AFSPA in North-East of India particularly in Manipur though at present partly removed and Nagaland indicates that India has violated Article 1 of the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and so also the provisions of optional protocol. India needs to sign and ratify the protocol Additional I and II to Geneva Conventions, 1949, and 1988 Rome Treaty maintained by Pramod in his paper presented in the One-Day Workshop on International Humanitarian Law, Organised by the Royal Academy of Law, Oinam, Manipur with initiated by the Centre for Humanitarian Law Studies and Research Law Faculty, Gauhati University on 12th June, 2005. In the like manner, some groups of our “freedom fighter”, insurgents, etc, etc. Have also violates human rights. Apart from these, we being the citizen should also know our fundamental duties.

As far as justice is concerned, we have noticed and have a smell of it in different ways as propounded by authorities in eminence.

Stone (Julius Stone’s article “Justice and Not Equality” in Hastings Law Journal, 1978, Vol. 29.5; p.995) in his introduction, has maintained that one related tendency of social, political and jurisprudential theorists in the present century has been to seek criteria of justice of vastly simplified indeterminacy or ambiguity, such as ‘fairness’ and ‘equality’ in the hope of escaping the admitted perplexities involved in grappling directly with question of justice and peace.

Whereas, Rawls (John Rawls : A Theory of Justice, Oxford University Press; London, 1972; p.3) opined “Justice” as the first virtue of social institutions, as truth is of systems of thought. A theory however, elegant and economical must be rejected or revised if it is untrue; likewise laws and institutions no matter how efficient and well arranged must be reformed or abolished if they are unjust. Each person possesses an inviolability founded on justice that even the welfare of society as a whole cannot override.

Indian legal system is based on colonial idea is, of course, an offshoot of the British India Legal System, how laws being received and the very reception of the same is termed as Top Down Models of the British Indian Legal System by Baxi (Upendra Baxi: (Ibid)). Thus reception of law and endeavouring to modernize the same will not go with the every aspects of day to day life in this present society particularly that of Manipur. Even the 14th Report of the Law Commission of India way back was in 1958, emphatically stated and urged the authority to reform the existing law that should not lie in the abandonment and replacing it by another. The real need of the hour is the inculcation of a higher sense of duty, a greater regard for public convenience, greater efficiency in all those concerned in the administration of justice. Yet, in this 2011’s, we still need the updation of law, i.e. an alternative law (laws) to go with the social reality in India in general however very specifically in states like Manipur.

Law and order operations considered essential for development and nation building also shelter a whole variety of legal and extra legal police and para-military violence (Ugljesa Zvekic (ed): (Ibid pp. 228-229). Progressive criminality of this nature is to be sure, a notoriously global phenomenon, and the use of fatal force by security forces in India, especially through “encounters” in term of art describing civilian casualties in dealing with dacoits, extremists, militants and now terrorists is alarming on the rise. Standard-less use of force by the very custodians of peoples security and well being seems in India justified as an aspect of development, here conceived in terms of reasons of state as reinforcing national unity and integration (Ibid : p.229).

In Europe, more autonomy is given to publics patients have the right to die, the system goes with globalisation, whereas, in India we have only the right to life (only in name sake). There is no crime in suiciding, in Switzerland, people who have been suffering from a boring prefer to die, state authorizes to end their lives, (B.B. Pande : Ibid.). In fact, there is no fantasy it is reality, for the right to die is a basic need for them.

The role of privileged class is very important though the nature and dimension of them is for deviance. How, identifying the “Privileged Class” as the elite class (on the basis of super qualities) or the ruling class (on the basis of ownership of means of production by the traditional and non traditional thinkers (K.S. Shukla (ed) : Other side of Development: Social-Psychological Implications, Sage Publications, N. Delhi, 1987; p.138). In general the term relates to the section or strata of the society who enjoy some kind of position of power or advantage over the rest of population. This group advocates even the laws are selfishly codified without slightest concern of the masses particularly the poorest of the poor and weaker sections of society including women – Super-discrimination. Hence, the law is repressive and negative aspect of the entire positive, civilizing activity undertaken by the State (Antonio Gramsci: State and Civil Society – Website). Also while dealing with cases, the courts maintain the domination of the ruling class by the law strictly. It is particularly high in the exceptional state because of the role of social forces which the supporting classes often play in particular the petty bourgeoisie (Nicos Paulantzas : The Exceptional State – Website).

Dr. Irengbam Mohendra Singh (calling Time on the most unsafe state in India – Manipur on a Swiss Model and article by Dr. I. M. Singh published in the Sangai Express on 24/4/2011) has suggested very apparently the political legitimacy is indeed central to the sustenance of Manipur identity. The existence of secessionist movements reflects a lack of legitimacy. The lack of state legitimacy relates to the rise of ethnic conflict and competing ethno-nationalism. Repressive policies to deal with ethnic dissent are counter-productive.

Like Switzerland, Manipur needs to transform itself into a multi-ethnic state with a sense of collective national identity, each community taking part in common institutions and practices, separated from a ‘culturalist’ and ethnic perspective (Ibid). Such a circle should devise how to build a composite Manipuri identity based on equality or autonomy within the framework of the existing state of Manipur Politicians with such broader aims in their manifestoes should be chosen to form a ‘unitary’ democratic government in Imphal subject to change the capital in the hill areas from time to time so that balancing the whole state regularly takes place in the widest social inclusiveness i.e. “equality indication”. Manipuri’s need a think tank or a policy institute i.e. a non-profit organisation that conducts research and engage in advocacy in areas such as economy, social policy or political strategy that will be fair to all ethnic groups, big or small. There must be ‘give and take’ approach rather than ‘take and give’ policy (Ibid).

Bringing peace in Manipur deals with the following perspectives :
1) Student power -Proper education – education does not mean degrees only – it means a transformation of mind in understanding issues at hand – the comely is facing. Education stabilizes roots of planning and achieving a sense of progress and development.
2) The idea of corruption – must cease, the Government must adopt ‘Zero Tolerance’ of corruption committed by officers, ministers and other sections in the socio-economic and political sectors. Rampant corruption must go.
3) Judicial system must be revamped.
4) Money meant for social development must be utilized for the same.
5) Opening up of economic sector.
6) Trade & commerce – employment generation and the urge of the youth to each a livelihood of dignity must be encouraged.
7) Manipur suffers from ‘indignity’ and callous approach of the authorities that be. It is a beautiful region with lots of potentialities these must be proved, planned and encouraged especially in the sector of tourism.
8) Ethnic clashes should give way to ethnic cooperation and a progress based upon mutual trust and dignified living.
9) The need for the armed forces will go once the various communities start living together without being afraid of each other.
10) Intermarriages should be encouraged.

Conclusion : Peace is not cessation of war; it is a noble way of understanding the impact of wars and the way of avoiding it. Peace is a perception of avoidance of conflict. It is a way of live – Living with inconsistencies and yet not opting for violent means which normally should be the last option.

If Egypt can change and bring about a political peace why can’t Manipur let the youth will it and peace shall prevail.


The writer is Ph.D., LL.M., Sr. Lecturer, Damdei Christian College.

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