The proposed visit of the General Secretary of NSCN-IM to Manipur from 3 to 10 May 2010 has invoked severe unrest and tension in Manipur. The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) had earlier acknowledged the proposed visit and had given a green signal. However, with the subsequent rise of opposition the MHA has changed the signal colour to red. Preventive measure to ban entry of Muivah to Manipur is being stage managed by the Manipur government on the border areas of Senapati and Ukhrul Districts. Whereas the Naga based civil societies have sought for the entry of Muivah to Manipur several non-Naga based civil societies have strongly boycotted it. Supporters of Muivah’s visit have imposed economic blockades on Manipur and other forms of protest. The situation may turn out to be violent and may culminate in communal conflict if not handled in an amicable manner. CPDM, in its press statement, dated 6 May 2010, would like to share thoughts about its interpretation and ideological stand point on the issue.
Legality or Illegality of Muivah’s visit to Manipur
The Government of India and NSCN-IM are under certain formal agreements and, therefore, the legality or illegality within the framework of India’s law regarding the general secretary of NSCN-IM Thuingaleng Muivah’s proposed visit to Manipur is being preconditioned by the provisions of the agreement. Many are being kept in the dark about the terms of references mentioned in such agreement between GoI and NSCN-IM; and yet the lifting of ban imposed upon NSCN-IM would logically imply for Muivah’s right to freely move in any areas where the Indian constitution is being practically enforced. Manipur being strictly bound by the Indian laws, if the law grants, Muivah has the right to enjoy all the rights that are being enjoyed by every Indian citizen. No citizen of Manipur who is loyal to the Indian constitution has the legal legitimacy to boycott Muivah from either entering into Manipur or carrying out his activity on the basis of adherence to the norms and prescriptions within the framework of the Indian law.
We would like to encourage Muivah to visit Manipur for the following reasons:
1. Muivah grew up in Manipur and he had missed Manipur for several years. He is a human being who loves to visit his home, meet his relatives and dear ones. We would not oppose anyone visiting his home on humanitarian grounds.
2. Muivah should be allowed to visit his base areas and deal with the ugly trend of class formation and class contradiction not only among the rank and file of his cadres but also among the Naga population that had posed a serious challenge to peace and democracy. He should also be given a chance to study and rethink if his proclaimed Christian Socialism would be able to bring a practical solution to the communal crisis among the communities constituting the overarching Nagahood.
3. Muivah should be allowed to visit every part of Manipur and interact with various sections of the people and be an eye witness to the internal dynamics that had been fast developing towards a stage of interdependence and interaction among co-existing communities. Should an exclusive Nagalim be possible against the objective realities of internal and external dynamics have to be decided on the basis of objective realities, and he must be allowed to see it.
4. Since the Naga question in Manipur directly or indirectly invokes sentiment and would have material impact upon other communities, it can only be resolved through understanding and cooperation among co-existing communities. If Muivah represents Naga politics he is the legitimate person to broaden the horizon of campaign for support among the Meeteis (including the Meetei Panggal), Kukis / Thadous, Paites, and other communities who do not subscribe to his political ideology. He should be allowed to speak to the Manipur public and at the same time he must also respond to several questions in public appearance.
We have reservations with the protest against Muivah’s visit to Manipur for the following reasons:
1. The territorial integrity of Manipur cannot be disintegrated as long as material condition of co-existence founded on the practical basis of interdependent mode of production and distribution among the people cutting across community and administrative boundaries prevails above mechanical divisive politics. Territorial area could be expanded or reduced, depending upon the changing material relation among communities. The material relation that forges psychological unity among communities would promote voluntary unionism and it is the precondition for territorial integrity. Right of self determination of other communities and rights of secession have to be recognised on the condition that such secessionist claim is not chauvinistic and territorial secession do not affect the physical survival and economic livelihood of co-existing communities.
2. If the fear for Muivah’s visit to Manipur is based on the illusion that he would be able to disintegrate Manipur along communal lines then the whole articulation about 2000 years integrity of Manipur became self-defeating. Leaders are not to become effective upon a community of people by sheer articulation of idealism. No political rhetoric or propaganda could permanently divide people nor disintegrate territory if the material relation among co-existing communities is based on economic cohesion and other socio-cultural bonding.
3. Neither durable peace could be established by imposing a version of territorial integrity nor could chauvinistic approach achieve a practical peaceful solution to any integrity question. An open confrontation with a communal organisation renders the politics of opposition communal. Campaign for protest would generate communal sentiment, would organise people along communal lines and illustrates reservation to the possibility of dialogue and consensus. Such open confrontation would act as surrogate to the articulation of dichotomy theory and the entire episodes of protest would be summed up in constituting a history of communal confrontation.
Safety valve policy of the government centres on Muivah
However, the sequences of events such as the Union Minister of Home Affair’s instruction to the DGP of Manipur to arrange security for Muivah’s visit, the programme list of Muivah’s public meeting delivered by the MHA, MHA’s advice to Muivah to cancel his trip to Manipur, the Manipur state cabinet decisions, deployment of forces, flag marches, imposition of curfews and other preventive measures in Senapati and Ukhrul districts to prevent Muivah from visiting Manipur; all these sequences of overlapping events which have created communal unrest in Manipur seemed to be a fallout of well prepared political manoeuvring aimed at dividing public opinion on the issue of territorial integrity or disintegration, invoking communal sentiment, diverting attention from the burning economic issues, and also to win sympathy and trust for Manipur police and Ibobi government from amongst certain sections of the residents in the valley districts hitherto indifferent towards Ibobi government and state terrorism.
Who has benefitted from the economic blockades and who are the losers?
Economic blockades on the national highways and setting ablaze of stranded goods laden trucks have benefitted the material interest of the blockade supporters. It does not affect the economy of the entrepreneurs and the upper class in Manipur. The truck owners would receive compensation from the insurance company or increase the price of fare to recover the loss; the business entrepreneurs at varying levels would increase the retail price of the goods; the corrupt government servants, contractors, political leaders, doctors, lawyers and so on would have means to increase their income. But the majority of peasants and workers at the receiving end who have no means to increase their income are the worst affected section in course of artificial price rise due to blockades and destruction of goods. Therefore the political economy of blockades and destruction of consumer goods has class implication and it is characteristically anti-poor.
Who have benefitted from the ongoing security build-up at the border?
Over the last few years the moral legitimacy of the SPF Government under the leadership of Okram Ibobi has been seriously challenged and shattered beyond recovery. State terrorism, economic crisis, displacement policies, corruption, and administrative failure have generated a situation of unrest. Severe forms of protests have been carried out by various sections against the government. Coincidently most of the powerful populist protests were urban based and largely organised in the thickly populated valley districts of Manipur dominantly inhabited by those who believe in defending the territorial integrity of Manipur. Since the integrity question is both imaginative and emotive Ibobi seemed to have instrumentalised the issue of integrity in order to divert public attention. He colluded with the central government in building up security measures in the Senapati and Ukhrul areas on the pretext of preventing Muivah from entering into Manipur. The flag march, frisking of civilian and Assam Rifles vehicles by Manipur Police Commandos, and their bunkers were being telecast in local TV channels. Such a stage-managed plot could have a visual-psychological impact upon majority of the population who are motivated to take sides with him on the issue of integrity. All these were aimed at recovering the image of the Manipur Police Commandos and depiction of Ibobi’s own image as a patriot who would dare to confront with central government in defending Manipur. Is he campaigning in advance for the proposed general election in 2012?
Who has benefitted from the communal campaigns and who are the losers?
Communal campaigns would culminate in the creation of communal leaders and strengthen their narrow politics. Subsequent counterproductive and sectarian campaigns could lead to communal clashes. Over the last 18 years some of the events that are being technically referred to as Naga-Kuki conflict 1992-96, Meetei-Meetei Panggal conflict 1993, Kuki-Paite conflict in 1997-98, Moreh Killing of 2007, Meetei-Naga tension since 1997 and so on had shown to us that all those events had killed civilians, displaced several marginal peasants, destroyed properties, and created tension and unrest. Communal leaders did not target the oppressive and exploitative system towards a revolutionary change. They are either sponsored by the state or a part of the ruling class or worked in collusion with the ruling class to fulfil their self interest. All that the communal leaders do is to undermine the growth of class consciousness by articulating communal propaganda. They carry out psychological propaganda against other communities, charge other communities as being responsible for unrest and poverty, and they asserted themselves to the level of communal leader to gain power and material benefit in the name of community growth. Conflicts are being hatched up by communal protagonists and its price is being heavily paid by the vulnerable sections that would never benefit from communal politics. Do the communal leaders have any clear cut political-economic programmes to adequately address the issue of subjugation, oppression and exploitation of the lower class community members by the ruling class in their respective communities? The ruling class of all communities are common in character and their overall reactionary policy irrespective of communal boundaries perpetuates class rule.
What is the role of the Indian state and who has succumbed to its policy?
Sixty two (62) years of the imposition of the Indian capitalist path of development in Manipur have contributed not only to the rise of communalism but also to a geometrical rise in the number of IDPs, proletariat and marginal cultivators who may statistically be grouped in the category of ‘below poverty line’. Whereas class consciousness that could have united the democratic forces against the class rulers is being deliberately withheld from being articulated, leaders who benefitted from perpetuating class rule within communities are negating historical materialism and articulating projected sovereignty and territorial integrity of their concerned communities in such a way that such articulations are mixed up with communal stereotyping and created a situation of unrest among co-existing communities from time to time. While the Indian state has been colonial in character, the political economy of the rebelling national chauvinists as apparent in economic blockades, extortions or taxation along highways and from the comprador bourgeoisie, community cleansing and terror in varied forms which have adverse impact upon the physical survival and economic livelihood of people who live by daily physical labour or who are at the vulnerable areas is symptomatic of bourgeois nationalism. Making of Muivah into either a heroic or devilish icon centred on his proposed visit to Manipur would be the handiwork of communal protagonists of either side who aimed at promoting the class rulers by raising communal banner to temporarily divert attention from the class question. Such politics could merely sidetrack the fundamental issues of impoverishment, insecurity, displacement of the peasants and workers who constituted the majority of the bulk of the subjugated, exploited and oppressed sections in Manipur. We condemn it.
To the workers and peasants of Manipur
The bulk of the peasants and workers in Manipur who are subjugated, oppressed and exploited have nothing to gain from the politics centred on Muivah. Blind belief in communal propaganda would create communal wedge among your class and this would strengthen the pre-existing slavery and impoverishment that is being superimposed upon you. Let Muivah come and go as per his wishes. If he is the friend of workers and peasants he would definitely call for unity of the subjugated and oppressed cutting across community boundaries. If he is a part of the ruling class he is like any other comprador bourgeoisie who would enjoy a big material share from the Indian bourgeoisie at your expense. Do not believe in the commandos to protect you as it constitutes the backbone that defends the corrupt system that subjugates you. Do not believe in the bourgeois political leaders who are always having double standards in dealing with your cause. They enjoy power and their class policy ruins your livelihood in the long run. But your future lies in the unity of the nationalities under your leadership against any form of colonial regime and exploitation. Unless you fight against the existing ruling system for a democratic change there can be no peace, development and unity. The fight for your respective democratic rights would be victorious only when there is unity of the subjugated, oppressed and exploited within and beyond your community boundary.
Long live democracy!
6 May 2010
The author is Chairperson, Campaign for Peace & Democracy (Manipur)
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