Anti-India hysteria grips Manipur valley

From our Correspondent

IMPHAL, June 21: An anti-India feeling is running high in Manipur. The symbolic pulling down and trampling of the Indian National Flag which was hoisted atop the building of the Manipur Legislative Assembly is very significant in the context of Manipur. It is also equally significant that the seven-colour flag representing the seven clans of the Manipuris was hoisted.

For a long time the insurgents have not been permitting the government officials to celebrate any of national functions. Such low-key functions are held well inside the Assam Rifles and Manipur Rifles battalions. The ministers who used to go to different districts and towns on such occasions suddenly stopped on security grounds. The district commissioners, however, hoisted flags at their well guarded offices. No Indian flag is seen fluttering on these national functions. For a long time the people have been feeling that they are subjected to step motherly treatment.

The sense of alienation was complete when the ceasefire with the NSCN(IM) was extended to Manipur despite the four-year-long protest. What shocks the people is that the opinions of the people and State Government were not even sought. The insurgents do not, as a matter of policy, kill the police and State paramilitary personnel saying that these personnel also have a role to play in the "freedom movement." But the Central forces are their common enemy as they symbolize the Indian Government. It was an unprecedented step that intellectuals and elder citizens had convened a public meeting in Imphal to take the decision that the merger agreement which had been signed with the king of Manipur held under house arrest in Shillong should be declared null and void.

Prof. N. Sanajaoba, former Dean of Law, GU and other academicians say that Manipur had been an independent country for 2000 years. Its boundary and authority had been recognized by other countries as shown by different treaties. The NSCN(IM) says when the Britishers had formed Manipur many areas of the Nagas were included and this historical fact is overlooked. The AMSU and other leaders do not agree. As a mark of protest against the bludgeoning to death of an RPF leader this outfit has banned Hindi films and songs.


Imphal, June 21:

This morning will not show the day.

The burst of frenetic activity in the two hours of curfew relaxation early today saw the deserted roads full of people once again, with cars fighting for space with autos and carts and the shops crammed with customers.

As though three days ago blood had not been spilled in the city square, the Assembly and a host of other buildings not been reduced to ashes, and the people not been plunged alternately in anger and gloom.

In this play of light and shade, there is one reality that stood out today: that nothing has been forgotten, or forgiven. Curfew may be lifted in a few days, but no one knows when normality will return.

The sharpest reminder came today from the All-Manipur Students Union (Amsu) and the All- Manipur United Clubs Organisation (Amuco), which have been spearheading the protests against the extension of the Naga ceasefire to Manipur. Driven virtually underground since Monday’s conflagration, which took a toll of 13 lives, the leaders of the two outfits discreetly met the media in a “safe house” in one of the bylanes of the city where they said the battle against the Centre’s decision had only just begun.

“What happened on Monday is unfortunate, but it was a spontaneous, if irrational, reaction of the people to the injustice that has been done to them,” said R.K. Anand, adviser to the Amuco. “The hidden agenda is the creation of a Greater Nagaland and we shall oppose it.”

In an atmosphere already surcharged by the refusal of the legislators to resign immediately in protest and instead to give the Centre a July 31 deadline to roll back its decision, the outfits have decided to launch a non-cooperation movement that could well snowball into another major crisis for the administration.

Anand made it clear that the “intransigence” of the legislators would not be tolerated. From social boycott to giving them the message that they had no moral right to remain in Manipur, the legislators, the outfit said, would have to pay for their “anti-people” actions. “They (the MLAs) have no moral right to remain inside the state’s territory and should leave immediately,” said representatives of Amsu and Amuco.

If the Manipur MLAs are feeling the heat at home, they are unlikely to be much better off in New Delhi. Nineteen MLAs belonging to the Samata Party and the BJP along with state BJP president Bhorot Singh left for New Delhi today to pressure the Centre to review the Naga ceasefire extension. But Manipuri students in New Delhi had threatened not allow these MLAs to enter the Manipur Bhavan.

The decision to extend the ceasefire has touched a raw nerve in almost all sections, and ages, of the Meiteis, the dominant population of Manipur.

Hemmed in by tribals, the Vaishnavite Hindus of the valley fear not only a loss of territory but also a challenge to their identity as the Centre’s ceasefire decision has come to mean “a virtual endorsement of the Naga claim to a Greater Nagalim”.

“Now the Centre has virtually recognised this by extending the ceasefire to our territory,” said Dhanavir Laishram of Amuco. “We don’t believe in the Union government any longer.”

Even as armed security personnel scour the streets for curfew violators, activists have been moving from house to house, canvassing support for their cause. “Once the offices reopen, people will resort to a go-slow agitation, there will be rallies and sit-in demonstrations; nothing will move,” said Anand. “But it will be a completely democratic affair.”

Delhi calls meet Under intense pressure to revoke Central rule, the Union government has convened a meeting of Manipur parties in Delhi on Saturday to discuss the volatile situation in the state.

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Referred by: Mukandan CM
Published on: June 23, 2001
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