TANGKHUL SOCIETY UNDER SIEGE?

by Yenning
Source: The Sangai Express, E-pao,  Hoi Polloi And Mundanity
Via an article posted on July 20, 2014 


Clamping of prohibitory orders under CrPC 144 over Ukhrul town consequent to the killing of Ukhrul Autonomous District Council (ADC) member Ngalangzar Malue on July 12, 2014 has been interpreted by the frontal organizations of Nationalist Socialist Council of Nagalim (Isak-Muivah) especially the United Naga Council, Naga Mothers' Union, All Naga Students' Association Manipur, Naga Women Union and Naga Hoho as a "systemic policy of sabotaging and jeopardizing the Nagas of Manipur through muscle power and military might". And such a move is taken by the frontal organizations of NSCN-IM as akin to keeping Unkhrul town under siege.

While any person who respects the ethos of liberal democracy, who takes a vehement stand against the Armed Forces Special (Powers) Act and who firmly believes in the universal principles of human rights would condemn the siege of Ukhrul town by the state police forces, it would also be worthwhile to recall that the Tangkhul society has been under siege since the split of NSCN into the Khaplang and Isak-Muivah factions in 1988.

It becomes inevitable for Muivah to keep the Tangkhul society under siege in order to achieve its Manipur project and thus, committed the highest number of crimes against its own people, and killed the maximum number of Tangkhuls during "peace time". "More than 400 criminal cases were recorded in the hill districts, maximum of them in Ukhrul district in the past 15 years since the NSCN-IM signed the cease fire agreement", was what Deputy Chief Minister Gaikhangam stated in Manipur Legislative Assembly on July 18, 2014.

Just as no condemnations have come forth regarding the assassination of Malue from the Tangkhul society (other than the politically motivated Naga Mothers' Union who also demands release of the killers of Malue), in the past, too, there have been no condemnations. Is it the Tangkhuls' failure to come out of its tribal moorings or is it the fear of reprisal that would put them to similar fate and the very fear psychosis that has paralysed its body politic is something that only the Tangkhuls can answer themselves.

Is it the fear of UNC and other frontal organizations of NSCN-IM more than the armed-wielding cadres of the outfit that has put the Tangkhul society into such a fate?

But what is noteworthy is that these have only resulted into fragmentation of the Tangkhul society on traditional lines such as the North, South, East and West. Demands for speeding up of the peace process between the Government of India and NSCN-IM and demand for an immediate alternative arrangement for the Nagas (including Tangkhuls), therefore, can be deduced as the only ways to prevent further fragmentation of the Tangkhul society and maintain status quo of the western Tangkhuls over the rest of Tangkhuls as well as the odd 15 Naga tribes of Manipur who were coerced to be affiliated with UNC Manipur or the Naga Hoho.

From the Politics of Denial and Difference to the Politics of Defiance

For many organizations that has a political vision, such as NSCN-IM, which once dreamt of a sovereign Nagalim, denial of life is a political act. People can be eliminated simply because the individual does not follow its diktat or that individual has a different vision and thus, she or he is a potential enemy of the party. One of the most memorable political assassinations committed by the Naga rebels was the killing of Yangmaso Shaiza in January 1984 simply because late Shaiza, the first Tangkhul Chief Minister of Manipur stood for the territorial integrity of Manipur.

And unlike Th Muivah, the former CM worked towards bringing unity among all communities. People fondly remember the secular Shaiza. When the NSCN-IM killed him, the larger Tangkhul society was a mute spectator. Many other Tangkhuls were eliminated from a mere drug addict to an official of the Government or a business man. As Manipur Naga People's Front (MNPF) has rightly claimed Ngalangzar Malue was the 11thvictim of the crime carried out with the directives of the "Western Tangkhul NSCN-IM leaders" during the ceasefire period. Out of the eleven victims, seven were Tangkhuls and none happened to be a Western Tangkhul.

Other forms of denial can include commanding a person to give up his job or work, claim over one's property and wealth, forced eviction of a person from one's place of birth, denial of crimes committed and denial of history and collective memory itself. Denial mode is a compulsory element of the politics of difference and any organization which indulges in such a kind of politics would take every measure to make it vocal and loud.

Generally, it begins from the subjective level (take for example the Tangkhul as a subjective corpus of the larger Naga society) and then moves on to the objective level (Manipur as an objective political entity). In this understanding, denial has to begin within the Tangkhul society wherein the Western Tangkhuls are projected as the role models who carry on their shoulders the political vision of the Tangkhuls. Those who do not walk the line are obviously eliminated or neutralized. And the politics of difference is organically linked towards further validating the political goal of NSCN-IM.

At the objective level, we have witnessed how the politics of difference is being circulated. Of course, lives (of non-Tangkhuls )have been taken away, too. But more significant is the very nature in which certain organicity and lore of the past are denied by the NSCN-IM and its slavish stooges. Take for instance, Naga historiography denies the organic link between the Meeteis and Tangkhuls or for that matter the very word Manipur is projected as a colonial power who subjugated the Nagas.

None mentions how both the communities have suffered together "the birth pangs of the past and many an ordeal of survival sharing a common destiny against heavy odds" as is symbolically expressed in the Mera Haochongba celebrated annually in Manipur. How in that moment of bliss, ecstasy, togetherness and semi-divine happiness, the participants of the festival hardly find their languages different or any other antecedent a barrier. Further, the birth theory that the Tangkhuls and the Meeteis are brothers is lost in the politics of denial and difference circulated by NSCN-IM and its stooge intellectuals.

The other obvious experience of denial and politics of difference is the very way how UNC Manipur, the Naga apex body of the South Nagalim, since its formation on February 8, 1981, has been circulating communal propaganda blaming every evil and misfortune suffered by the Nagas to the Manipur Government. The sole task of UNC has been to malign the Manipur Government and instigate other communities so as to make them finally vomit with crime. Of the more than thousand press notes released by UNC, none is without a communal tinge.

Communal propaganda of UNC has not stopped even after the formation of the Joint Liaison Committee (between Nagaland Naga Hoho and UNC Manipur) in 1996, which finally led to the formation of Naga Hoho on March 11–12, 1998 at Zunheboto. Fortunately enough better sense has prevailed and political maturity among the Manipuris has prevented a direct confrontation with UNC. Denial and politics of difference is an ongoing process. However, achievement of UNC or NSCN-IM within the Tangkhuls or the Nagas has been minimal precisely because individuals by nature are political and endowed with the power to reason. Such a form of politics can be taken to be absurd. Nevertheless, it seems intelligible to the ones carrying out the vendetta.

Silence is political. One need not necessarily conclude that one's silence has given victory to another. However, silence also has its own pitfalls. The confidence one achieves through the politics of denial and difference makes the protagonist to move to the next level of politics i.e, the politics of defiance. And precisely, this is what had happened to Ngalangzar Malue and his death. Of all the crimes committed by NSCN-IM only one has been solved and given punishment under Indian Penal Code. This is the case related to the brutal murder of Dr. Thingnam Kishan and his other two colleagues. Others remain "unsolved" and "unpunished". Defiance also takes place in other spheres such as rejection of rule of law, imposition of illegal taxes and extortion and others. And in fact this form of politics has been possible because Government of India is solidly behind NSCN-IM.

Does the Government of Manipur have the Will to impose its Will?

Call it stupid, lack of moral fibre or even political killing, the murder of Ukhrul ADC member Ngalangzar Malue on July 12, 2014 came at a moment when the slavish stooge of NSCN-IM was having an upper hand over the Government of Manipur and in fact dictating the terms of engagement as far as the alternative arrangement for the Nagas of Manipur are concerned. But it appears at the moment the killing has turned the table around and appears as if NSCN-IM has thrown away the baby of opportunity along with the political bath water.

As UNC has grimly admitted, the killing has given the Government of Manipur the opportunity to reclaim its lost space and authority (sic. militarization) in one of the Naga dominated hill areas of the state. And if the readings are correct, Ukhrul is just the beginning, state action is likely to follow suit in other districts such as Senapati, Tamenglong and Chandel in terms of deployment of state police forces or commandoes in the popular jargon.

And such opportunities are rare ones, and the Manipur Government is bound to grasp the opportunity with iron hands. But militarization is not the answer; the more important issue is making its rule of law writ large in the hill areas of Manipur. However, the question still remains: does Government of Manipur have the will to impose its will and free the Tangkhuls from the shackles of fear and servitude?

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