ByÂ H. Bhavan Meitei:
When the clock strikes 5 pm, people absorb themselves alone in the darkness. They rush to their houses, elders look for their family members. If some one doesn’t return after sunset, mothers begin to cry, worry heaps upon the family. When dogs bark in the street, people switch-off lights and gather in one room – together. The fear. The fear of ‘The giant of Hastinapur’.
This is the present condition of Manipur, which once was called ‘The jewel of India’ and ‘Switzerland of the East’ by the first Prime Minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru. But today, it is one of the most disturbed and conflicted states in the country. People are trapped between militants and armed forces and are eaten up slowly by corruption, fake encounters and price rise of essential commodities and much more. There is an extreme lack of power supply. The state is like an orphan, with nobody to talk to. Death is more common than anything. People are alive not because they din’t do anything wrong, but because they are lucky.
Who is ‘The giant of Hastinapur’?
After the infamous brutal rape case incident of Manorama, (2004, June), people of Manipur coined the termed ‘Hastinapurgi hingchaba’ (The giant of Hastinapur, in English) as a metaphor to the Indian Army. Citizen rose against the Army, shouted slogans to vacate the state immediately. But one clarification– Manipuri people are not against Indian Army, we are simply against the Armed Forces Special Powers Act, which gives extra custodial power to the forces, giving rights to kill or detain any person regardless of the gender at any time by even a low rank constable. Manipuri’s respect the Army, who are dedicated to serve and protect mother India and to maintain law and order.
Art, culture and sports, all suffer:
Traditionally, Manipur is famous for culture and excellence in sports. Shagol Kangjei (Polo, in English) is originated from this tiny state, which is hidden in the eastern frontier of the country. Manipuri dance (Ras leela), pung cholom (a kind of dhol yatra) are some of the internationally acclaim art forms which have emerged from Manipur. In the last National Games held in Jharkhand, Manipur emerged as the top state in medal tally. Many of the Manipuri’s won medals in CWG and other international tournaments. The reason for such dedication in sports also lies in the fact that people try their best in sports to get, at least, a government job, on quota. Corruption kills the state, but people didn’t protest against it as there are a lot of fears and lack of awareness, in most cases.
There is something in the air and in the rules and regulation of the present media houses. Or may be it is just the commercial saga of media which makes them think that the news from this region will not read or viewed by people in other states in the country. No doubt that some channel and papers carry news from this region but most of the issue are discarded. Most of the news are regarding the conflict, violence and often portrayed as ‘only the victims of the time’. No analysis to solution of the problems is offered and now news of development is featured, as if nothing is happening in the entire region.
I can go on and on on this topic. But it is up to us to really reach out to our brothers and sisters in Manipur and bring them to the forefront.
The writer is a student of IIMC, Dhenkanal