Thursday, February 13, 2014

House Arrest

Page one of the Hindustan Times daily today carries a heading, “Non-locals put under ‘house arrest’ in Manipur”. I had to put down my coffee cup. Without going into details I made up a mental picture of a riot breaking out and the people with authority imposing curfew to secure the safety of the mayangs (outsiders) by imposition of curfew.  

It may be recalled that northeasterners living in Delhi have a renewed sense of insecurity in the wake of the death of Arunachal Pradesh student Nido Tania following an assault on January 29, the rape of a minor girl from Manipur, a brutal attack against on brothers while they went to buy vegetables and the stabbing of a youth belonging to Manipur, all within a span of two weeks. Even the Manipur CM Okram Ibobi Singh met home minister Sushil Kumar Sindhe and other central leaders in connection with the ‘recist’ attacks in Delhi.

I have seen and experienced the ability to the Meiteis (non-tribals) to handle complex situations. They have undergrounds and overgrounds which seemed to work in tandem. In a situation of atrocities carried out against people from the northeast, I knew that the finesse of the Meiteis will come to the rescue some time or another. Perhaps there was mob frenzy in Imphal and perhaps the authorities reacted by imposition of curfew. That’s what I thought. And I read on-    

“Reacting to the frequent ‘racial attacks’ on northeastern people in New Delhi, students’  organisations in Manipur enforced a ‘curfew’ to keep non-locals indoors from 5am on Wednesday”.
Reacting to the racial attacks? Was it a mob that reacted? Am I reading about mob violence? Are we on the verge of a civil war? And the HT report goes on-
“The 19-hour ‘curfew’ virtually put under house arrest roughly 5000,000 non-Manipuris in Imphal and adjoining areas. Most of the non-locals are traders in central government or private sector jobs. Shops and businesses establishments run by non-Manipuris remained closed while non-local students skipped schools and colleges. This followed the ‘curfew’ call by the Joint Students’ Coordination Committee (JSCC) restricting all outdoor activities including movement of non-Manipuris”
Surely there is something wrong! And the report quoted a certain Laishram Reagan, who happens to be a student leader (not a mobster) as saying, “We took the step to protest the racial attacks and discrimation against people from the Northeast in mainland India, especially the metros” And here’s is another line uttered by the spokesperson of JSCC, “We will intensify our agitation if our demand for enactment of law to fight racial crimes is not met”
Even though the report is silent on what exactly is the proposed law, still am in a positive state of mind because the JSCC spokesperson spoke about a law.
Then another question came to my mind. If JSCC has drafted legislation, will the Republic of India make it into a law because some Biharis and Marwaris are held hostage by the popular student body in Imphal? Personally, I don’t think so. But may be the JSCC leaders hold the view that something is better than nothing. Is there no other way to impress the Government about the need for legislation? This I don’t know. I never knew any solution to the problem. Even so I never lose hope.
As I have said earlier, the finesse of the Meiteis is what I have been looking forward to all these years. In fact the Meiteis are able to withhold the benefits of the provisions of the 6th Schedule of the Constitution of India for 40 years. For a race of their standard the act of holding mayangs hostage to demand enacting of a law seems a bit too clumsy.
Even the rhetoric against the mayangs is ingriguing. The target of racial discrimination in the mainland is unmistakable- the chinkies. But when it comes to the perpetrators, at least as far as the recent cases are concerned, it does not seem proper to point fingers at the mainstream Indians as a whole. In a diverse country like India, not only the northeasterners, but most residents feel insecure in Delhi and other metros, which is why people have adapted to certain norms which look odd to the free minds of the northeasterners.