In the piece “How Hindi helped to build a bridge to Manipur language and culture” published on 12th July in The Hindu, the author of the said article/Op Ed piece Kuldeep Kumar, attempts to make a case for the prominence and historical importance of the Hindi and Devanagari script in Manipuri history and literature. The piece however is littered with factual and historical inaccuracies and worse, an extremely selective and distortive history masquerading as profound discovery.
Richard Kamei, Sira Kharay & Dolly Kikon on culinary worlds beyond Chicken Neck
As of now there are no direct links, and the alliances between the Azadis, in India and in Kashmir. But remarkable and perplexing exchanges are not uncommon in history, and we should not close our eyes to such possibilities beforehand. Kashmiris have demonstrated the ability to patiently out-wait the state, not least of all in this present crisis of the post-370 abrogation. The rhizomatic subterranean diffusion and spread of Azadi into India’s social – slowly navigating across barriers and police pickets, surviving and seeking life – into all different directions, should also be patiently nurtured and allowed to grow for more mature solidarities and struggles to come later in the day. It’s not the responsibility of the oppressed to emancipate their oppressors but somehow Kashmiris might have just given India such a gift. How far India will go with this gift is an open question.
By relegating the cries of the North-East region to fringes, a strong and powerful ‘liberal’ discourse on ‘secularism’ has emerged in India’s ‘heartland’. One can clearly observe the immorality of this discourse; news reports, opinion pieces announce the new Citizen Act as “islamophobic” and “anti-secular” while using images from the protesting ‘North-East’. One will also find news reports where images are used from the current Assam protest and the news item never mentions the protest in Assam and its reason but talks of passing an “Anti Secular Bill”. Deaths of protesters in Assam is cited in making their ‘liberal’ ‘secularist’ arguments in news rooms and opinion pieces.
If you were to be accused of molestation or sexual assault in Manipur, your name could get engraved in a bullet. Public outrage and reprisal against sexual violence has been building up in Manipur for a long time.
In the times to come lynching, political assassination, massacre at the borders will be how lessons on Indian Hindu Nationalism will be taught. Everyone who writes, speaks and exposes the fascistic design of the far-right Hindu Nationalist camp will be vilified as terrorist, and demonized as anti-national. Military strikes at the border will be increasingly conducted, upon which the orgy of patriotism will be enacted persistently. The fate of Kashmir and Manipur will be decided around the conference tables in Delhi. People’s movement will not be televised, it will be curfewed and militarized. Parliament will become a shelter of hate-speech. The language of killing and lynching will enter the everyday execution of Hindu democracy, and words like freedom will disappear from our vocabulary. In the meanwhile more Burhan Wani, more Gauri Lankesh will meet the tragic bullet’s end.
Thokchom Veewon’s cause belongs to all of us coming from areas far away from the heartland, physically and psychologically. The assault on Kashmiri students in Dehradun and Kashmiri employees in Jammu in a display of Hindutva nationalism is our cause too. It’s the cause of every person living in this nation state with a conflicted and an imposed sense of identity. The state apparatus is against our very existence and that is clear from the way the local court in Delhi easily granted the police remand to take him back to Manipur- a homeland that has seen so much violence over the past 70 years. Let’s not forget that Thockchom knew what was at stake when he decided to speak against the government policies having grown up in a place where the traffic control is done by army men carrying loaded rifles and AK47. He knew what the consequences could be, yet till the very end he stood firm on ground. On 12th February, two days before being arrested, he had posted on social media that the police had visited his house in Manipur and threatened his parents.
Manipur Research Forum (MRF) is organising a book event at the official residence of the Chief Minister of Manipur on the 18th of October 2018. This is to release an edited book; the editors of the book are members of the Forum and the articles are reprints from the Forum’s journal – Eastern Quarterly.
We, as contributors to the book and/or as Trustees of the Forum, would like to make this statement dissociating ourselves from the said event.
What worries concerned citizens of the state is not that the fact that the police arrested the agitating students and the teachers named in the FIR (FIR number: 223(9) 2018). But the manner and the modus operandi of the state in effecting those arrests. There are a number of laws and legislation at the state’s disposal to establish its actions as rational. One can get easily lost in the maze of the State’s bureaucratic jargon and proceduralism. Even if the state could argue that it was authorized to use necessary force to effect the arrest of the accused students and teachers according to section 46 of the Criminal procedure code; measures such as firing tear gas and rubber bullets at students will only add fuel to the fire. It is a standard counterinsurgency policing practice in an insurgency-torn state like Manipur to launch operations in the wee hours of the day to utilize the element of surprise. The midnight Blitzkrieg at Manipur University which uses this same logic points to more disturbing trends. The incident has become a lesson in how not to tackle student unrest.
There are political rights; a government is set up in the land. Democracy functions with total success. An election is held every five years. But for the people in this land there are no names. So for the nameless citizens the nameless representatives govern the land of the half-humans. Because whether to give human names to the head or to the body — no one can decide. A land such as this is very much in the news, a land much talked about.
My mother is a woman with ten tongues
That is why she raves incessantly
Unmindful whether it’s day or night!
I run from home to bazaar
Muddle-headed on lanes and streets
Like an owner-less dog;
When I returned she fumed again
“Offspring of sin why don’t you die
At least other children die by swallowing poison”,
I became so angry my blood boiled,
From my heart my pulse bounced in and out.
The recent speech in Hindi by the Chief Minister of Manipur on 28th March at Madhavpur fair held at Porbandar, Gujarat claiming Manipur and the entire Northeast region as a part of the Brahmanical cosmological universe dragged out from obscurity and obsoleteness, an old debate which have been dumped in the darkest abyss by generations of historians so that it does not find light again. The Indian state has not been very successful in nationalizing this recalcitrant region and its population, and successive governments have used different strategies to bring the region under their firm control. With successive electoral gains in the region, the ruling party has been emboldened to go ahead their master plan of submerging the entire country under one national identity. The Madhavpur Mela, organized by Ministry of culture in Gujarat to celebrate another mythical claim that Lord Krishna married an Arunachali princess, is a grand and a very expensive affair to bring the region and its population under the hegemonic Hindu nation.
On 28th of March during the Madhavpur Fair held at Porbandar, Gujarat, the Chief Minister of Manipur, Nongthombam Biren unabashedly accepted the distorted lies about Manipur, its people and its history which has been long propagated by the Indian colonial discourse of dissolving Manipur in the Caste-Hindu fold forcefully. In an act of repeating the signing off of Manipur in 1949, Nongthombam Biren gave the above statements on the said day conflating facts with fiction, myths with history and thereby paving the way for Manipur’s fall and the loss of its identity.
One needs to constantly remind oneself of the impossibility of extrapolation especially when using few stories to stand in for the whole. For example, the reading of ‘Meitei women’ as ‘unique as they are deeply concerned about the society they live in and are involved in various social organizations,’ or ‘This little girl grew up, got married and like most Meitei women, got actively involved in social work.’ is remarkable in its lack of nuance and (mis) reading the parts for the whole.
Fly your flags
Where you have walked proudly
With your boots on.
Let your nation sing the Anthem
Not me, not this chinky guy
I hate it
I hate things being imposed on me
I have heard your gunshots preaching
About what can this nation do to us
Almost seven years ago, to the week, I had sent off instructions to Gauri Lankesh about who would receive her at Imphal airport and then take her up to Ukhrul. She was part of a team of women writers from different parts of India who had been invited to travel across the Northeast and write stories about their experiences
She said, “She loves dogs”
What she meant was she doesn’t eat dog meat.
I said, “Me too, I love beef Biryani”
She asked if she is safe in my town
I told her it is her people who are guarding the town.
You asked me
the nationality of my vagina
In its chasm lies
The key to the community’s downfall
A very short poetic guide to Meetei identity by Veewon Thokchom
Two poems by Thangjam Ibopishak in a translation by Robin Ngangom
After Irom Sharmila’s humiliating defeat in the recently concluded Manipur Assembly Elections, where she got only 90 votes, social media was filled with concerned citizens and activists going berserk, talking about how poorly this defeat reflected upon the new political culture of India. The idealism and politics of Irom Sharmila was put on a pedestal to an extent that people sitting far away from the rough and tumble of Manipur’s politics saw themselves as capable of pronouncing judgement upon the morality of the people of Manipur.
What promise does this election have for the tribals of Manipur? Will there be a break to the current political impasse post-election? What does this election hold for the future of Manipur? These are pertinent question that remain to be ask in the light of the upcoming election in the state.
The current imbroglio in Manipur reflects the tension between conflicting ideas of various communities settling in Manipur. Some valley based civil societies as well as sections of the hill population have welcomed the government’s decision and reasserted their faith in the idea of Manipur. While sections of Naga civil societies have not minced their words regarding their commitment to the idea of Manipur…
In 1963, Kanhailal Heisnam had been expelled from the National School of Drama on for having taken leave without official permission. The real problem, according to scholars like Rustom Bharucha was Kanhailal’s inability to cope with the pressure of being expected to speak, write and work in English and especially in Hindi. These were languages that were unfamiliar and alien to him, just as he was alien in the space where he had arrived, albeit with much hope and optimism, as a student of theatre. Having been expelled, after a period of aimlessness, Kanhailal returned to Imphal finally in 1969 to begin his own work and established his theatre group Kalakshetra Manipur. However, unlike the far-more spectacular Ratan Thiyam, who even went on briefly to become the director of NSD in 1987-1988, Kanhailal remained for a long time on the margins of what was accepted and celebrated as ‘Manipuri ‘theatre practice at the nation’s centre.
The day was September 27, Tourism Day was to be observed at Mapao Zingsho village. The villagers were enthusiastic as the Chief Minister along with the Deputy Chief minister were to arrive at the village for the first time for the state level festival. Organizers had told that a crowd of at least 5000 could be expected.
Nobody would have any doubt whatsoever now that Sharmila is extraordinary. She has that madness in her that few are gifted with. By madness we of course do not mean insanity. Instead we mean in the sense that Zorba the Greek meant it when he said, “In life we need some madness, otherwise we will never have the courage to cut the rope and be free.” Sharmila’s decision to go on an indefinite hunger strike, her perseverance despite persuasions by many to end it, and now her decision to call it off and join politics, all say this loudly. This madness notwithstanding, let everybody be reminded nobody is infallible.
AFSPA, why don’t you go fuck yourself?
Don’t you have brothers?
Don’t you have commanders?
Don’t you have captain?
Why don’t you go fuck them all?
Why don’t you go Kill them all?
” Are you from Imphal?”
” Still you run for Irom Sharmila?”
The pictures speak of the brutality of the Delhi Police and Manipur Police. The scenes I saw at the hospitals were heart-rending. About 60 people are detained at Chanakyapuri Police Station. I was not allowed to meet the officials or arrested people, many of whom are injured.
Today the fertile valley of Manipur, home to the Meiteis, has been under a tremendous demographic changes wherein Meiteis face the ‘existential’ crisis. A fear-psychosis has been shared among the populace that Meiteis will become a minority in their own land as there is no regulatory mechanism to regulate the unabated migration from other parts of India. Thus to defend the population, there have been popular movements to monitor and regulate demographic changes and land tenure. The recent move to introduce Inner Line Permit System (ILPS) initiated in the valley spearheaded by Joint Committee on Inner Line Permit System (JCILPS) is one such assertion urging to protect the ‘indigenous’ people of Manipur, which ended up facing an unprecedented opposition from the highlanders. It was perceived as another move by the majority Meiteis to ‘encroach’ upon territory of the highlands which the Meiteis does not traditionally own, and are owned in a different manner by the highlanders, and delegitimising the citizenship of the highlanders. Till today nine dead bodies remain unburied in Churachandpur signifying the opposition and resistance.
“With which gun will you shoot me then? Made in India, or made in another
While state seems in no mood to repeal bloody AFSPA and continue oppression on people by killing dissident voices with impunity, people are bound to revolt. A continuous humiliation and torture of people living under AFSPA is just unbearable. This colonial rule and bloody thrust of power and resources must end.
Inner Line Permit – a line which produced the border between hill and valley of Manipur in the colonial times might result in reinforcing the already existing fissures. Deepak Naorem on ILP demand in Manipur
Linda Chhakchhuak on tangled web of Manipur chaos