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'Jakhlabandas' in Imphal :: Imphal Diary

Maisnam Bomcha *

'Jakhlabandas' in Imphal :: Imphal Diary



Passive acceptance is equally unacceptable as active complicity. The inaction of the state is as glaring as its culpability is unpardonable.

The place stands out in the midst of the darkness all around. There is a row of about 5/6 shops, all brightly lit up. It is already 7pm, but the place is just about starting to stir. A few cars and some two wheelers are parked in front of what looks like a mini bazaar.

Only, it's a market of a different kind. The shops and a few shanties adjacent to them sell meat of most kinds, in most forms of preparation and yes, liquor; of again, most kinds. The location of the place defies all sense of a regular commercial set-up. The only but most irresistible attraction of customers to the place is the mercantile on offer. Given easy access; liquor will sell even if it's sold in the Arctic.

There, you have the latest watering holes of a dry Imphal. Places like this have mushroomed all around Imphal city. Perhaps because of the not so hunky dory state of the communal relations, the numerous 'Khuls' dotting Imphal are no longer the favourite stop of the Bacchus lovers of the city.

Or, it is just a matter of plain convenience. Who wants to walk long distances when things are available next doors? Another welcome change to the dreary ambience of the Khul vendors is the uninterrupted power supply to the joints. As if in a mock challenge to power situation in Manipur, the place keeps its own generators.

Progress comes in a package. Such degradations, if one calls it one, invariably come with time. All advanced places have their own share of such elements of society, unwanted institutions. In fact night life, places of sleaze and vice are taken as sure indicators of growth and maturing of a place into a fully fledged modern city. No modern city is an exemption.

However, such things can not be allowed to flourish without opposition. The simplest reason is that, without opposition things just go out of control. The exception cannot be allowed to become the rule. Passive acceptance is equally unacceptable as active complicity. The inaction of the state is as glaring as its culpability is unpardonable.

It was told that these places, now popularly known as 'Jakhlabandas' in some sections of Imphal; from that all night place on the Imphal-Guwahati bus route and where liquor is freely served illegally at the eating joints; were closed for 10/12 days prior to the visit of the President to Manipur. So much so for police action or rather inaction to maintain law and order in our state. But the Manipuri society existed before the presidential visit and it continues to exist. Such eye-wash happens only in Manipur.

Secondly and perhaps of a more serious concern is the silence of our civil society. AMADA, Nisha Bandh groups, Meira Paibis should be well aware of this not so recent happening. It is in public knowledge.

What are they doing? Are they disbanded and defunct? It is not incumbent upon the civil bodies to police the society, but since they have taken it on themselves to check such illegal activities which affects the society as a whole; the new development is too glaring to ignore. Remember, they have the unwritten mandate of the society and the public expects them to act.

It is also an opportunity to prove once again that they have public weal in mind when they go out to take up all those thankless endeavours. Also that our civil bodies not only target individuals but are capable of, as well as keen to take on organised crimes too. It is indeed a ripe time to stop murmurs on the seriousness of intent of our social sentinels.

Any activity which makes a fast buck burgeons fast. In a society like ours, with the question of the flow of regular customers never in doubt, selling liquor in such an organised way is bound to mushroom fast. And it's happening. It is not only the question of the illegality of the issue.

With open vendors coming up at every corners of the city, we are simply allowing the tentacles of that major source of crimes spreading from private homes and the Khul vendors. Translated into a theoretical juxtaposition; the state is allowing a cancerous spread of the very source of the nemesis of rule of law and public order which it is meant to safe guard.


* Maisnam Bomcha wrote this article for Hueiyen Lanpao as part of "Different People, Different Places, Different Times"
This article was posted on May 02, 2013



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