TODAY -

Art of stopping bandhs & blockades

Free Thinker *



Half a decade ago we were facing a series of bandhs and blockades in the valley as well as in the hills. There were more bandhs in the valley and blockades were quite popular in the hills. It is a pleasant surprise that serious bandhs and severe blockades have not taken place in the last six years or so.

Now, the issue before us is what has happened to our committed organizations, associations, NGOs, Unions, Parties, and activists in the last few years. Even if bandhs and blockades are called, normal life is hardly affected. Something is wrong somewhere.

Normal is boring for a vibrant democracy. I am not provoking but who says top leadership can't lead a movement? It depends on the cause; just like the war against drugs, a campaign may be triggered from 'Heinou Makhong' that - all the children of government employees and Ministers must study within the State.

A vociferous appeal to this effect may be made to be followed on volition. If the campaign is successful this will bring a sea change in the academic atmosphere of the State and it will also check the drain of wealth from the State.

A few decades ago Assam and Bengal were always in the news for agitations, rallies, demonstrations, bandhs, etc. They were the torchbearers of agitation in the region. Later on, it gradually shifted to Manipur.

Later on, I realized that our students who had studied in Calcutta and Guwahati came back with some striking skills. Along with their studies, they also learned the ways and means of expressing public grievances through agitations. Our recent history has witnessed hunger marchers, movements relating to statehood, foreigners, language, inner-line-permit, Naga integration, Meitei ST, ADCs, etc.

One Pracharak told me that their members are so familiar with people's movements that many times they can prevent any movement or agitation which are anti-Parivaric. They are committed to stopping or checking the process of organizing bandhs and blockades which are detrimental to their dispensation.

'Nip at the bud' is the mantra. For that, you need manpower and resources. That is not a problem these days. There are some fixed bandhs and general strikes which are just like gazetted holidays in the State. They come and go. That is not an issue.

The art of agitation and mass movement was mastered by Mahatma Gandhi during the freedom struggle. Google says he started it in 1917 from Champaran. Google or Wikipedia provides some facts and figures, sometimes controversial, but mostly reliable. A student of History will agree with the fact that nonviolent demonstrations and agitations have their origin with Gandhiji in modern times.

Some are not very fond of Gandhiji because of their personal issues. That does not mean that we should deny him credit for mobilizing first-class mass movements. He had the charisma and caliber to raise a humongous crowd for various movements against the British Raj.

These days we see a nonviolent movement going on for the inclusion of Meiteis in the ST list of the Government of India. It must be so frustrating to continue the movement as there is hardly any plausible response from both the State and the Centre. Meiteis have evolved now from a hunting-gathering stage to a semi-pastoral or largely agrarian society.

Except for the fact that most of them are literate and received some material things, their society is not yet industrialized or has a developed economy based on manufacturing or trade or any economic activity worth mentioning. They are just living at the mercy of aid and funding.

Men in power in Delhi will happily agree to the proposition of ST status, because they know that these people are still indigenously backward, despite having some buildings, bridges, and roads here and there.

There are no viable means of survival. The State leadership must act accordingly and this will solve many problems. The agitation is perhaps not so strong to shake the Assembly and Parliament and hit the news headlines in Delhi.

Whether you believe it or not, the Parivar leaders and Sangathan activists are sensitive about agitations, bandhs, and blockades. Whenever there is a possibility of cropping up some major agitations, they themselves start running around and start talking to the agitations - whether they are students or youths, Women or ethnic groups.

Parivar representatives come in advance for negotiation when they smell any agitation or movement. Police come later for preventive measures, if necessary.

In reality, the people in Manipur are so fed up with bandhs and blockades, because they have suffered a lot in the recent past. The leaders, the affluent, and the rich are hardly affected by bandhs and blockades; only the poor and common people suffer. Perhaps this realization has made bandhs & blockades redundant.

However, Parivar members' invisible roles in preventing bandhs and blockades should not be undermined. Prolonged farmer's agitation in Delhi and NCR was finally negotiated by the Sangathan leaders in the middle of many nights. True or False?


* Free Thinker wrote this article for The Sangai Express
This article was webcasted on November 10 2022 .



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