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India's forgotten state

May 10, 2005 10:55 IST

With the NDA in strange boycott mode, which nobody either understands or supports, and the nationalists and secularists in narcissistic mood, either appreciating their mirror images or trying to settle scores with each other, god seems to be the only agency available to take care of national affairs, as devotees would like to see, believing this is god's own nation.

Hence we can be content with our IIC (the India International Centre) discussions and missiles on the Election Commission. The nation is perfectly in the hands of the upper storied Master of the Heavens.

Manipur is in serious turmoil, yet none bothers. It is a jewel in the crown of the age-long civilisational body of the nation, surrounded by beautiful lakes, mountains, inhabited by the great dancers and scholars and poets who have influenced the heart and mind of rest of India and taken the fragrance of our cultural garden far and wide around the globe. But now it is burning and the soul of India is in tears.

Last week the greatest treasure of the tiny tribal state, a library containing thousands of rare manuscripts and books, dating hundreds of years back, was burnt down. The physical losses ran into several crores of rupees, but the real value can never be calculated, as the national treasure of the rarest of manuscripts and literature is lost forever.

It was burnt because the local Meitei movement, actively supported by the Communists and the church, wanted the Bengali script to be replaced by Meitei and the library contained books in the Bengali script, because that has been the long time cherished tradition of the state.

Now, who owns Bengali? It is an Indian script, having its roots in Sanskrit and a perfect national language. Why should the love for Meitei be transformed into a hatred for Bengali? Knowledge in any language and script is precious and needs to be preserved unless you decide to be the Taliban, happy to destroy a Bamiyan and a Takshshila.

But neither the so-called mainline press nor mainland politicians bothered to read the agony of Manipur and kept issuing statements on the Election Commission and the blunder-land called Parliament. Manipur is bleeding and its age-long relations with the rest of India and her traditions are under great strain.

Why Manipur is burning

A couple of months back the vice-chancellor of Manipur University was abducted and tortured, because the extremist organisation Kanglei Yayol Kannan Lup wanted its own man to head the audio-visual research centre at the university. He had, in fact, appointed a person supported by another extremist students organisation, the United National Liberation Front, and was later shot in the leg. None protested, not the faculty nor the students.

In Manipur, the national song is banned and is not sung either in schools or any other public platform. Even Manipuri books are not allowed to include it in their pages. In the text book screening committees, set up by the government representatives of separatist organisations like the All Manipur Students Union, the Democratic Students Alliance of Manipur, the Manipur Students Federation (a Maoist outfit) force the committee to teach only Manipur issues, leaving out of its gambit Gandhi, Nehru and other national heroes. The State Council of Research and Training just cannot say 'no' to these elements.

The Manipur Implosion

In a Robin Hood role, student organisations check teachers' conduct and cut their salary if they are found to be absent from classes. The money collected is deposited in students' organisations accounts.

In the government sector, the Kanglipak Communist Party, the United National Liberation Front and the Kanglei Yayol Kannan Lup are most active and impose a 'tax' none can refuse. Government employees are forced to give 1 to 2 per cent of their salary and each central project contractor or the officer in charge has to cough up 10 to 20 percent of the project cost. It is all in the open.

People who have the 'blessings' of the separatist organisations run the show in the offices like gangsters, become the source of all information and guide the 'actions' if needed. The separatist movements have taken root with clear support from Leftist extremist groups and church-inspired elements.

The Soldier's Dilemma

This tendency has further been strengthened by the sheer apathy of the Delhi sultans, who remain satisfied with their blurred image of a Hindustan, which does not really matter beyond Kolkata in the east.

The last ten years have seen a meticulous consolidation of the separatist forces. The AMSU was formed in 1962 as a genuine students body, which was 'taken over' by the separatist UNLF in 1997. The People's Liberation Army, another insurgent outfit, ended up having a different students body named the Manipur Students Federation (Maoist).

A breakaway group from the UNLF was formed as the KYKL in 1985 which joined hands with the National Socialist Council of Nagaland -- Isaaac-Muivah group (NSCN-IM) who helped it counter the influence of the UNLF, its arch enemy. The KYKL has established its students group, DESAM, having almost total control over Manipur University.

Another influential revivalist movement leader revered is Khonangthava who emerged as a powerful reformist in the early 20th century and emphasised Manipur's pre-Vaishnavite traditions. After great debate and pressure from separatist students organisations, the vice-chancellor had to concede their demand to have his statue on the university campus, though the teachers opposed it saying Khonangthava was neither a religious leader not an academician.

Mass murders, burning of books, denouncing Indian tradition and laws, nude demonstrations against army 'brutalities' and Delhi's rule and opposing anything that makes Manipur undisputedly a part of the national mosaic are the signs representing this tiny state of the famous Radha Krishna dance forms and a great tradition of literature. Anyone listening?

When you push your own people to harder options even to meet modest legitimate demands, old ties are severed in a fit of anger, that's the lesson of history Delhi should not forget.

Tarun Vijay is the editor of Panchjanya, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh weekly. The views expressed here are his own. He can be reached at tarunvijay@vsnl.com

Tarun Vijay