UNLF renews 'sovereignty' pledge
Source: The Sangai Express

Imphal, November 23 2011: The Central Committee of the proscribed United National liberation Front (UNLF) saluting its founding leaders, brave cadres and soldiers who have 'paid' for their vision and conviction with their own lives on the eve of the armed organisation's 47th raising day anniversary, reaffirmed UNLF's commitment to sustain the armed struggle for 'change and liberation' till the goals are achieved.

Conveying gratitude to 'our compatriots' who have supported the armed struggle spearheaded by the UNLF for the 'liberation of Manipur from India' on the occasion of its anniversary, the Central Committee also issued it Annual Report for 2011 for perusal by one and all.

Recounting Manipur's existence as a sovereign nation for thousands of years in Western South East Asia before the British invasion changed the socio-political scenario in the entire region after the World War II, the Committee said Manipur, too, had regained its independence in 1947 and embarked on a democratic journey by holding an election in July, 1948, under a newly drafted Constitution.

But this experiment was abruptly cut short in 1949 when 'India occupied Manipur through force and duplicity' .

"Post 1949, when India annexed Manipur, the image and idea of Manipur have been chipped away bit by bit.

During the British rule, the unity of Manipur had been prised open by placing the hill areas under a separate administrative regime.

The trend has been continued by India till today," it said.

Under the influence of this 'divide and rule' policy, the long tradition of peaceful interdependence between and among the communities have given way to suspicion and hostility.

This has discouraged solidarity and peaceful coexistence amongst the communities as well as stood against the historical evolution of a united armed struggle for forging a new sense of nationhood.

After India occupied Manipur, the principle contradiction has been the national contradiction between India, on one hand, and the people of Manipur as a whole, on the other hand.

The only way to resolve this irreconcilable contradiction is to forge an armed struggle cutting across ethnic affiliations to wrest independence from India.

The annual statement of the Central Committee asserted that UNLF will continue to abide by its declared policy of 'Autonomy at all levels' that respects and fosters languages, cultures, religion, economic development and identities of the communities, irrespective of their size, to ensure a life of dignity.

In consonance with this principle, the UNLF condemns bigger entities trying to forcibly assimilate smaller ones.

It is the firm belief of the UNLF that different communities with diverse cultures rubbing shoulders with one another under a regime that respects and promotes co-existence and co-prosperity of communities is a precondition for the birth of a larger national culture as well as a collective national identity.

Terming the Indian Government as a regime of impunity that seeks to justify all its action in the name of containing armed struggle, the Committee maintained that the reign combined with India's policy of economic exploitation have tended to choke off the drive and creativity of the people and society.

India's education policy which has no synergy with the tradition, heritage and lifeworld of the affinal groups inhabiting Manipur is deliberately promoting an environment and value system averse to questioning the hegemonic policies that India practices in Manipur and adjoining areas.

Those who conform are rewarded suitably contrary to those who resist intimidated by use of force, including arbitrary arrests and death in 'staged encounters', the statement alleged.

"The colonial system has alienated each of us, individually as well as collectively, from the geography and history that we have co-habited together through centuries and from each other to the extent that collectives are unable to acknowledge and accept the spirit forged through mutual association through centuries" .

Observing that Manipur is now choke-full with Indian security forces for suppressing the armed struggle, it said to house these ever increasing ranks of Indian security personnel, schools are commandeered, open spaces are occupied, bushes cleared and hillocks are razed militarizing both the hills and valley as never before.

Developing human resources systematically would be impossible under these circumstances, the Central Committee expressed and suggested that the only way out is to institute autonomous governing bodies for educational institutions and let them plan and run the educational institutions funded by the government while experts get together to fashion an appropriate educational policy.

With regard to toll on the national character, it pointed out that culture is the index of lifeworld of human societies.

By extension, the culture of a community showcases the lifeworld of that community forged through its interactions with the environment in the struggle for survival through the ages.

Herein lies the source of distinct identities.

Our customs, language, music, martial arts, and all the things we produce are elements of our culture which has evolved over generations.

Yet, the world has seen distinct cultures wilting and disappearing under silent invasion from expansionist cultures.

In our case, the onslaught of Indian culture has begun to dilute many of our cultural practices and our collective spirit.

But culture knows no boundary � neither physical nor political.

Given this, a viable defence against cultural invasion is to absorb it and transform it through a process of synthesis.

Cultures fall and are swallowed by a more aggressive culture when the synthesis mechanism does not work, the Committee cautioned.

Conceding that the challenge of cultural invasion is now all too real, it prevailed upon 'experts in this field as well as patriots' to join hands to inform and alert the people what can be profitably absorbed and what is best rejected.

The UNLF too would deliberate with like-minded organizations to see what can be done in this regard.

On implications continuing population influx, it noted that at around 10 lakhs, the indigenous Tripuris, who had formed the majority in the erstwhile princely state of Tripura, today constitute barely a third of the total population of around 35 lakhs.

Thanks to the ceaseless population influx from mainland India, the indigenous Tripuris have been reduced to the status of strangers in their own homeland, it wryly remarked.

As a result, their (Tripuris) identity has been overturned and politically they have faced oppression.

Continuing influx from 1949 till 2011 has sharply increased the number of outsiders in Manipur, too.

At eight lakhs, they now constitute almost a third of Manipur's total population of 27 lakhs.

This is a dangerous trend that portends the destabilization of the unique identity of the indigenous communities.

Post 2014, when rail connectivity reaches Imphal, it is a matter of time before this scenario materializes and non-locals could soon capture the political and economic reins of Manipur.

This is nothing less than a silent invasion of India.

Even now, outsiders take away around Rs 1500 crores annually from Manipur.

This danger of losing our identities affects us all � irrespective of whether one lives in the hill or the valley or whether one is rich or poor or those who follow same or different religions.

Under the circumstances, it is high time that people reflect seriously on how long can indigenous communities safeguard their distinct identities and culture.

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