TODAY -

Politics of eco-blockade
- The Sangai Express Editorial :: August 08, 2010 -



Once again Manipur is in the grip of yet another economic blockade and we may well ask, so what is new about this ?

Well for one, unlike the recent 68 days or the 52 days economic blockade in 2005, this time round, it is the United Naga Council which has imposed the economic blockade and not the All Naga Students' Association, Manipur as was the case in the earlier two instances, though practically this amounts to the same thing.

This much is evident and yes, the economic blockade is not indefinite but for only 20 days, though God knows, which course it will take in the days to come. These points are vividly clear to all the people, we presume and so are the demands being pursued by the UNC and the reasons for resuming the suspended economic blockade.

A solution is sight seems to be a pipe dream at the moment, for the UNC and ANSAM, had already turned down the offer of the State Government to participate in a round table conference held on August 3.

The Kuki Inpi, Manipur and the All Tribal Students Union, Manipur also failed to turn up for the meeting, though the Kuki body has not given any reason for declining the invitation from the Government.

Apart from this and in the latest development, if we may say so, the UNC has refused to meet or have any contact with the three Ministers who were nominated and asked to do the needful to reach out to the Naga bodies and break the ice. The three Ministers were named during the course of the Cabinet meeting held on August 4 and their brief was clear.

Try to convince the leaders of the UNC, ANSAM and other social organisations concerned to at least discuss things with the Government. However, it is easier said than done, and for now the stalemate remains.

The hard or rigid stand adopted by the UNC and affiliated organisations centre around four points which they had submitted to the Centre for effective implementation with the rider that they be fulfilled or carried out within a set deadline, which in this case was July 31, the ultimatum being served on July 27.

For those with a short memory span or who failed to clearly note it down in their mind, the four points include, instituting a Judicial probe into the Mao Gate, May 6 incident in which two students were killed in police firing and more than a hundred 'peaceful' protestors were injured, imme- diate withdrawal of the imposed restrictions under section 144 CrPC and 'demilitarisation' of all Naga inhabited areas by removing or shifting out all the State forces namely the IRB men and police personnel as well as the withdrawal of the wanted tags attached on the presidents of UNC and ANSAM as well as the cash reward announced for any information or tip offs that may lead to the arrest of the said two Naga leaders.

On the face, the demands put up by the UNC definitely appear rational and within the purview of democracy. But these points become increasingly interesting in the backdrop of the Declaration to sever all ties with the Government of Manipur during the Naga Peoples' Convention held on July 1 at Senapati district.

It is this July 1 Declaration which has served as the backbone of the present demands put up by the UNC to the Centre and this is where all the interesting points lie. In a democracy, the rights of the people are paramount but this also comes with the rider that the rights or freedom of a people ends when the rights of another person begins.

In other words, rights cannot be interpreted as absolute, in the sense that there are no conditions at all. It is under the provisions of the rights bestowed by the Constitution of India that the July 1 Declaration of the Naga Peoples' Convention was adopted, but the interesting point is whether the rights enshrined in the Constitution can be interpreted in such a way that a declaration by a group of people or a community should over ride the interests of others and more importantly, will such a declaration stand the test when faced with the spirit of the Constitution of India ?

To any outsider, who do not have an inkling of the complex ethnic composition, their interests as well as the politics of playing to the gallery by whipping out the ethnic card, all the issues confronting Manipur may seem insurmountable or may be even hilarious.

Here is a small State, with about 22 thousand square kilometres in area and with a population of only about 25 lakhs or so, yet it has been the theatre of all the absurdities, the heart burns, the hatred and animosity as well as distrust, that come along with ethnic or communal polarisation.

In a way, this may prove to be more dangerous and more harmful to the society than the caste politics which was perfected as an art by people like Lalu Prasad Yadav or the politics of regionalism or regional chauvinism as seen in certain States, such as Tamil Nadu.

The July 1 declaration of the Naga Peoples' Convention to sever all ties with the Government of Manipur will definitely sound encouraging or even "enlightening" to some of the radicals on the Lim side, but the reality tells a different story.

Playing to the gallery to earn some brownie points and charting out a well planned political strategy are two entirely different things and continuing with the populist measures, which can have only short term effect, will be to the loss of the people, they claim to represent.

The shadow of the Lim issue on the demands raised by the UNC as well as the July 1 Declaration cannot be missed even to the politically naive individual.

It also needs to be stressed that the wanted tags on the leaders of UNC and ANSAM came after directives from the Court of law and the right place to challenge this should be the Court and not on the lifeline of the State, which is NH-39. Taking all these factors together, the politics of economic blockade seems redundant and self defeating in this modern age.

Ask Israel, if you don't believe us.





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