Imphal Free Press - Imphal Free Press
Sunday, 03 December 2017 00:00

Audio cassette released

IMPHAL | Dec 2

Keirakpam productions today released an audio cassette entitled “Wahang Ama Tangdi Hanglak-U” sung by Akash Ningthoujam with Pusparani Sharma and produced by Shyamkumar Irengbam and music arranged by M.Lungaiphun at Manipur press club. The function was attended by film producer Rakesh Naorem as the chief guest, film maker Narendra Ningomba and music director M.Lungaiphun as the president and guest of honour.

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By: Jiten Yumnam   

In November 2017, Nagaland and Manipur, two states in India’s North East with ongoing indigenous peoples’ Self Determination movement witnessed the extension of Disturbed Area, a precondition for promulgation of the controversial Armed Forces Special Powers Act, AFSPA, 1958 (AFSPA, 1958),  permitting the suspension of non derogable rights, like the ‘Right to Life’, ‘Right to Justice Remedy” etc. While the Government of Nagaland tendered objection to the extension of Disturbed Area tag by the Government of India, the Government of Manipur voluntary extended the Disturbed Area tag for a period of one year with effect from 1 December 2017. Under this Act, Indian armed forces have been conferred unrestricted and unaccountable power to carry out their operations, once an area is declared as “disturbed area”.  Indian security forces personnel up to the rank of a non-commissioned officer are granted powers to shoot to kill based on mere suspicion to “maintain public order”. Further AFSPA provides legal immunity to the Indian army personnel involved in human rights violations. The recommendations for AFPSA, 1958 figures at United Nations human rights mechanisms including in the Universal Periodic Reviews of India at the UN Human Rights Council in 2012 and 2017.            

The extension of the controversial piece of legislation, AFSPA, 1958 becomes a regular feature since its phased application in the two States since inception of the act in 1958. The AFSPA, 1958 facilitates the extensive deployment of Indian Armed Forces all across the terrains of Manipur and other parts of India’s North East, wherever the act is promulgated. The militarization processes is further exacerbated by the aggressive push for large infrastructure projects, extractive industries, viz, mining, oil exploration etc under India’s Act East Policy and indeed, Manipur is one of most militarized terrains in the world.   

The extensive militarization of Indian armed forces has led to wide human rights violations, civilian casualties, extra judicial executions, arbitrary killings, enforced disappearances, sexual harassment etc with lack of accountability for the violations by the Indian Army officials operating under AFSPA, 1958. The Supreme Court of India continues to hear a PIL seeking probe in the 1,528 extra-judicial killings in Manipur from 2000 to 2012 by security forces and police. The Supreme Court had directed a probe by the Central Bureau Investigation into the extra-judicial killings, mostly youths by the Indian army units and police commandoes in Manipur. Another horrendous impact of militarization is rape and sexual harassment of indigenous women by Army personnel, the most infamous being the rape and murder of Miss Thangjam Manorama by 17 Assam Rifles personnel on 11 July 2004. The nature and pattern of Indian Army violations in Manipur already constitutes a crime against humanity & genocide.   

Conscription of prime agriculture land, occupation of sacred cultural and religious sites for military camp establishments is another impact of extensive militarization. Most of the hills in Imphal Valley, including the Chinga Hills, the Patsoi Hills, Langthabal Hills and Cheiraoching Hills etc, revered as sacred cultural and religious sites to the Meitei people are currently occupied by various units of Indian Armies. The Assam Rifles for long occupied Kangla, the sacred political and cultural centre of the indigenous peoples of Manipur in Imphal, till it was withdrawn due to peoples’ protest against the brutal rape and murder of Ms. Thangjam Manorama by personnel of 17th Assam Rifles, then based at Kangla.  

The Kaimai Village Authority in Tousem Sub-division, Tamenglong District expressed concern with the media that the construction of military barracks by the Assam Rifles units in the compound of the Kaimai Baptist Church in their village since 2005 disturbed the social, cultural life and freedom of the villagers and affected the religious services and participation of villagers in the Church services. Women villagers are reluctant to attend church services, especially those held during night time, due to army presence in Church compound. The villagers’ request to remove the army barracks from the Church compounds remains unheeded both by the Army authorities. The continued army occupation of the Langthabal Palace, a historical site in Langthabal Hills inside Manipur University has long been a concern. In July 2017, students of Manipur University Students Union and North-East Forum for International Solidarity protested the continued military deployment inside the university reasoning that the Army presence in the university has negated academic life and freedom.

The army’s acquisition of massive tract of land led to much controversy in several places including Sekmai, Namching, Waithou etc, with villagers resisting the conversion of prime agriculture land and forest land into army camps and military establishments. Militarization also adds much pressures on communities’ agriculture, forest land and water sources. Villagers of different communities settled in Sekmai area staged protest against setting up of an army camp at the agricultural land of Sekmai area, following by a protest rally on 13 September 2017. Communities feared that the Army camps at Leimakhong, Koirengei Air Field and Pallel Air Field at Kakching may establish and expend their camps on the agriculture land located at an area covering 1800 acres in Sekmai and adjoining villages. The people have also appealed the government to forbid Indian Army to set up their camp at their paddy land asserting that their agriculture land is their main livelihood source. The villagers already sacrificed much of their agriculture land and forest for establishment of Leimakhong army base nearby and additional land alienation would be suicidal for them.         

The location of army camps and check points right in the middle of villages also led to much controversy due to the restriction imposed on villagers’ movement. In early February 2015, an indefinite bandh was called by the villagers of Tengnoupal Village, Manipur along the Imphal-Moreh Road calling for shifting of the Assam Rifles posted in the village. Protesting villagers’ contended that the Army officials denied free movement even for sick patients requiring urgent medical treatments. 

Other than land loss, many villages also are impacted by other military facilities. In October 2012, the villagers of Namching resisted efforts of Government of Manipur to acquire 24.51 acres of land from their village to hand over to 9 Sector Assam Rifles for use as firing range. Villagers demanded the cancellation of eviction order by the SDC of Kangchup on 18 September 2012. Villagers also contended that the Government earlier acquired and arbitrarily transferred 209.98 acres of their land to 28 Assam Rifles in 1991 without their consent and rehabilitation. The village authorities of Khunkhu village located near Leimakhong Army base complained the Army authorities continuously used a portion of  their village land field firing range since 1938 without compensation for damages caused to the village, constituting a direct violation of the Maneuvers, Field Firing and Artillery Practice Act, 1938. The Khunkhu villagers also contended that field firing and artillery practice in the area, including use of bombs and stray bullets have killed and injured villagers and their domestic animals. The villagers even petitioned the Guwahati High Court in 1997 and lamented that the Court’s direction in September 1998 to shift the firing practice and to award compensation for any casualties has not been honored.       

Militarization also led to use of education complex as military camps. The excavation of Eight (8) skulls at Tombisana School, right in the heart of Imphal Town in December 2014 had been attributed to prolonged deployment of Central Reserve Police Forces, BSF and other paramilitary forces in the school. The skulls are believed to be those disappeared in Manipur in the hands of armies. 

The inconveniences and harassment caused by armies in national highways, such as Highway 37 along Imphal to Jiribam towns with frequent and regular checks presents an inconvenience and utter disrespect for the people of Manipur, who are often subjected to degrading and humiliating treatment with men passengers commanded to alight from vehicles and to cross military check point on foot, an experience one feels in an occupied land and territories. Indian army military operations also led to restriction on the traditional livelihood and displacement of indigenous communities, such as due to Loktak Operation and the Summer Storm operation in 1999 and 2008.       

The aggressive introduction of unsustainable and large scale development projects such as Trans Asian Railway, construction of big dams, like the 105 MW Loktak Multipurpose Hydroelectric project, the Mapithel dam also involves extensive establishment of military camps for the protection of infrastructures and the personnel manning such projects. The proposed oil exploration, mining plans, other infrastructure projects and proposed plans to build dams all over the Rivers of Manipur under the Manipur Hydro Power Policy, 2012 will lead to further militarization of Manipur’s land, forest areas and other survival sources. Extensive militarization both for countering the self-determination movement of Manipur and to pursue development aggression under India’s Act policy will only exert more pressure on the land, forest and resource to further undermine Manipur’s food sovereignty and its peoples’ survival and self-determination. An assessment of the cumulative land acquired for militarization alongside with the myriad mega development projects in would entail a significant loss of land, forest and destruction of peoples’ survival sources in Manipur.   

Militarization process has disturbed the intrinsic relationships of Indigenous peoples with their land, territories and resources in Manipur. The presence of army camps right in residential communities also interferes with the social and cultural life and fabric of communities. Militarization also led to securitization of civilian affairs and functioning with programs such as Civic Action Programme. Confiscation of prime agricultural land and resources without the consent of the communities has led to social, cultural impacts while threatening the physical integrity and survival as peoples.

Manipur currently strives to protect its agriculture land towards ending food dependency on outside. Any further diversion of agriculture land to other non-agriculture purposes such as for militarization purposes will destroy its primary economic bases and foster dependency. There should be no land acquisition without the free, prior and informed consent of the villagers, such as Sekmai village. Article 11 of the UN Draft Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples stipulates that no military activities shall take place in the lands of indigenous peoples, unless freely agreed upon by the indigenous peoples concerned. The UN Special Rapporteur on Indigenous Peoples Rights, Mr. James Anaya expressed strong condemnation with the Mapithel dam construction and the militarization process in his communication with the Government of India in 2008.  Any military occupation of sacred, cultural and religious places, such as Church in Keimai Village should be withdrawn. As recommended by various UN Human Rights bodies, including the UN Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination in 2007, UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women etc, the controversial Armed Forces Special Powers Act, 1958, should be repealed and subsequently, Manipur should be demilitarized. The ongoing armed conflict in Manipur should be resolved with due recognition of indigenous peoples’ self-determined rights as per international law and UN Declaration on Rights of Indigenous Peoples, 2007.

Published in Articles

By Garga Chatterjee

The Tourism Department of the West Bengal government has been promoting West Bengal as a tourism destination as the “Sweetest part of India”. That claim got a certain fillip recently when it was adjudged by Geographical Indication (GI) authorities that West Bengal is the origin of the famed sweet Roshogolla, that white spherical ball of chhana oozing with syrupy sweetness. The West Bengal government had prepared long and hard to achieve this tag for West Bengal and this sense of accomplishment showed when West Bengal’s premier Mamata Banerjee reacted immediately on Twitter saying, “Sweet news for us all. We are very happy and proud that Bengal has been granted GI ( Geographical Indication) status for Rosogolla.” While this was received with elation by Bengalis, Odias were not quite so elated. For they too had a claim on this tag for something that is similar to Roshogolla but not quite Roshogolla. That beautiful thing is Odisha’s Rasagola. Never before has so much sweetness caused this much bitterness as evidenced by the long-standing debate between Bengalis and Odias on who owns the thing – a pretty fraught contest especially because “the thing” is probably not one thing. Roshogolla is Roshogolla and Rasagola is Rasagola. Odisha is on course to file a claim for GI tag for Rasagola. I, as a Bengali, wish them success.

In the world, there are special friendships and special enemities. However, between intimate neighbours, these becomes special friendships and special enemities. It is a kind of dialogue that only makes full sense to protagonists and stake-holders. Bengalis and Odias are two neighbour nationalities whose lives became historically intertwined in many ways, especially after the British conquered their respective national homelands and put them under one administration, a system that continues to this day in the form of the Indian Union government. The Hindu Bengali upper caste was one of the earliest collaborators of British imperialism in South Asia. Thus, they raked in the first mover advantage by placing themselves in intermediary professional positions of profit as lower level administrators, petty officials, lower court judges, lawyers, teachers, postmasters, station-masters and all that formed the human resource base of loyalty through which the British ruled. It is also this class that came to represent the fountainhead of dissent and resistance against British imperialism, reaching its peak influence during the movement against the 1905 Partition of Bengal.

However, the clout enjoyed by the British-collaborator Bengali groups also translated into their dominance not only of profitable professions in nations neighbouring Bengal like Assam and Odisha, it also meant that these groups also served as the interpreter of things natives for imperial policy making. Thus, Odia language was for some time classified as a dialect of Bangla – not by any merit of logic but by sheer clout of Bengali dominance in the written literary and academic sphere in areas of the erstwhile Bengal presidency, which also included Odisha. In fact, for some years, Bangla was the medium of education for Odiyas in their own national homeland. No one likes that and neither did the Odias and with the development of a critical mass of Odia bourgeoisie, many of these wrongs were successively corrected, culminating in the administrative separation of Odisha from Bengal. In fact, the development of Odia national consciousness owes its development to Bengali dominance over Odisha, the inspiration that Odia students of late 19th century Kolkata received from political narratives of that metropolis and Bengali styles of political organizing and self-identity articulation in no small way. The sweet-meat culture of Bengal and Odisha as well as the Roshogolla debate are bitter-sweet reminders of that special legacy of closeness and mutual learning.

Now it has been adjudged beyond much doubt that what people know as Roshogolla for the last hundred years or so came into being around mid-19th century in Kolkata, now the capital of West Bengal. The whole concept of GI owes its origin to the White anxiety of protecting trade monopoly on their products in markets of coloured people after having acquired capital and know-how from lands of coloured people without which things like Scotch would have remained at the level of liquors of coloured lands that did not have the advantage of investment in the fine-tuning of the production process, access to captive markets and most importantly, the status of lifestyle and fine-living aspiration accessory among colonized peoples. In some micro-sense, same might have been the case for Roshogolla. With the tradition of circulation of Brahmin Odiya cooks in colonial Bengal, who is to say what role did circulation of artisanal knowledge between Odisha and Bengal play in the making of West Bengal’s Roshogolla? We might never know. In some ways, a GI tag also emphasizes constancy and is an impediment to innovation and exchange, a reactive MacBurger style homogenization of artisanal knowledge in a world where trade and market ethos of White lands have now become the standard.

In this world, depth of pockets, market access, business ownership and advertising trumps the particularity of artisanal knowledge anyday. Authenticity becomes a matter of packaging.  Thus one encounters the sad spectacle of a product called the ‘Nagpur Rasgulla’, sold by a Delhi entity which originates from Rajasthan. If the GI tag of Roshogolla for West Bengal actually helps in creating a level playing field for the Bengali artisans vis-à-vis electronic payment fired ‘Nagpur Rasgulla’ marketeers, it will indeed be a good thing. But I doubt it. For nothing today is outside the sphere of money, even in terms of representation. Thus, the Wikipedia article on Roshogolla names it as a variant of ‘Rasgulla’ – a distortion of Roshogolla in both pronunciation and product. But the dominance of the channels of representation by Anglo-Hindi players makes the macabre as normal. The distortion becomes the standard. The authentic becomes a variant of the distortion.

Let me return to neighbourliness. Neighbourliness assumes tight borders. In reality, there are no such things. During my student days at the Medical College, Kolkata, those from the Odisha neighbouring West Bengal district of Medinipur would be ridiculed as being part Odiya. But that is the reality of borderlands. Hence, the lived fluid reality of many people in the borderlands on either side of the Bengal-Odisha border was aptly captured by a friend who told me that he had learned how to be a Odiya in Cuttack and a Bengali in Medinipur.

Published in Articles
Sunday, 03 December 2017 00:00

New minority rights body formed

IMPHAL | Dec 2

All Manipur Minorities Human Rights Council was formed today at a meeting chaired by senior advocate of Manipur high court Alhaj Md Jalaluddin, said a release.

The attendees unanimously resolved to appoint Jalaluddin as chairperson and MHS additional director Md. Salamatt Ullah, associate professor Syed Wahidur Rahaman and Anwari Noorjahan as vice-chairpersons, it said.

Advocate Alhaj Md. Rabi Khan is secretary and associate professor Alhaj Md. Ashraf Ali, Manipur state women commission member Farida, additional controller at Manipur university Alhaj Md. Anishul Alam have been appointed joint-secretaries of the group.  The body has resolved to execute the welfare and protection of rights of minority communities in Manipur with immediate effect, the release added.

Published in News
Sunday, 03 December 2017 00:00

Book released

IMPHAL | Nov 2

Two books entitled ‘Eige seireng Samjilei’ written by Thokchom Herald Singh and ‘Langlengsana’ written by Nilamani Khuraijam was released today at Manipur Press Club, Imphal.

The function was attended by University and Higher Education retired additional director, Aribam Kumar Sharma as chief guest, National awardee, Th. Ibopishak Singh as president and Writer’s Forum former president, Ksh. Sanahal as guest of honour.

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Sunday, 03 December 2017 00:00

BJP MLA praises Chief minister

IMPHAL | Dec 2

BJP MLA H. Kangjamba Singh expressed gratitude towards Chief Minister N Biren Singh for organising Sangai festival as well as Siroi Lily festival in Ukhrul and flower exhibition in Senapati as special occassions in the hilly region.

He praised the chief minsiter for solving the problem of dead bodies in Churachandpur, which had been pending since sixteen months.

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By A Staff Reporter

IMPHAL | Dec 2

Students’ Care Hostel, Sangaiprou celebrated ‘Advent Christmas’ today at its hostel campus on the theme ‘…Thou shall bruise his heel (Gen.3:15)’.

The celebration was attended by Witenthin Newmai as leader, Rev. Kagunnai Gangmei as speaker, and AZUS former president, Pamei Tingenlung, Gaisinpou Gangmei, Widam Newmai and Athuana Gangmei as dignitaries.

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Sunday, 03 December 2017 00:00

One drug peddler and UG cadre arrested

IMPHAL | Dec 2

A team of narcotics and affairs of border (NAB) police station, Manipur, arrested one drug peddler on December 1 and he was identified as Md. Rakibur Rahaman, 34, son of (Late) Mv.Hasamuddin of Thoubal Moijing Leikai, said a release by PRO Police.

It said, one kg of brown sugar worth about Rs.15 lakh in the local market, along with other incriminating articles were seized from him, and a case has been registered at NAB PS in connection with the case.

Further, the release mentioned that today, a team of district police commando, Thoubal, arrested one active cadre of proscribed UNLF, who was identified as Phairenbam Iboyaima alias Sakthi, 48, son of (Late) Ph.Abhira of Thongam Awang Leikai.

The arrested person was alleged to have recruited new cadres for the said organisation, from Kakching Khunou, Wabagai and Wangoo area. A case has been registered at Thoubal PS in connection with the case, it added.

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From Our Correspondent

CCPUR | Dec 2

The Churachandpur Working Reporters' Union (CWRU) has strongly condemned the snide remarks used on the president of the All Manipur Working Journalist Union (AMWJU), Wangkhemcha Shamjai, by a BJP spokesperson RK Shivachandra through phone call at around 7:30 pm of November 30.

The secretary of CWRU, Kaimuanthang has stated that the words used by the BJP spokesperson to the AMWJU president in a telephonic conversation over the issue of VIP culture, has not been a decent act.

CWRU has questioned that why the BJP is so inclined to perpetuated the VIP culture which has been manifested by many events in the recent days.

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Nehru Yuva Kendra, Imphal East, ministry of youth affairs and sports, government of India today conducted a district level declamation contest on the topic ‘patriotism and nation building’ at Biramangol College, Sawombung.

A release said, the programme officer, NSS, Th. Bimol Singh, assistant professor, BM College, N.Rajmohon Singh, and lecturer, Biramangol College, M.Sumita Devi were the judges of the competition which was held for the age group of 19-29 years.

It further said that the objectives of the contest were to strengthen patriotic feeling amongst the youth and masses for enhanced participation in nation building.

The contest was organised to identify youth leadership qualities for further development and empowerment, in order to enable them to take the lead in sensitising the functions and policies of the government, towards nation building, as well as popularising flagship schemes of the government of India, it added.

Humee Roy, Imphal East I block, won the first prize. While Olivia Chanu, Imphal East II block and Kh. Bishal Singh, Imphal East I block, bagged the second and third position respectively.

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About IFP

Imphal Free Press is a widely circulated English daily published in Manipur, North-East India. Started in 1996, it has relocated its head office from Sega Road, Imphal to Palace Gate, Imphal.

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