Mayhem in Manipur: beyond the chest-thumping

Crossing the international boundary to engage with the rebels in foreign land, is it really a change in the approach???? Some terms it as ‘hot pursuit’ and declared it as a ‘Message to Neighbours’. While some are more circumspect about the whole issue saying that it depends upon special circumstances.

Bimol Akoijam

Bimol Akoijam
Bimol Akoijam is an Associate Professor in the School of Social Sciences, JNU, New Delhi.

The chest thumping is good for the gallery perhaps…as a Union Minister had expressed his thoughts on the development as ‘56inchrocks’…but some people are more realistic to know the circumstances…Myanmar is no Pakistan or China…and in a way, Manipur or Nagaland is no Kashmir, leave alone Chhattisgarh or those 75 security personnel who were killed there.

But reportedly the revenge, the ‘ManipurRevenge’ as the same Union Minister termed it on his twitter, must be taken and has been taken in some way to satisfy the nation’s hunger for the bloods of those who had killed those 18 soldiers…in the form of this unprecedented operation by the special forces of the Indian army which had gone deep inside Myanmar (Burma) and destroyed rebel camps and killed more than 50 Manipuris and Nagas rebels…50 is not enough, some may say…’Dil Maange More’.

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But I am not sure whether those rebels will also go on their own schemes of retaliations or ‘revenge’ etc…My suspicion is this that we haven’t heard the last of the bloodshed in this hidden war or conflict which has become not only protracted but also gone through mutations over the last half a century or so.

I say this because history tells us that the decision to have the Indian military marched from the western side of Naga hills to the Eastern side in order to subdue what Indian nationalist called those ‘hostiles’ or ‘recalcitrant’ Nagas didn’t work when implemented; over the years. the conflict has become much more bloodier and it survives till date. And in Manipur, despite those bold declaration by the military bosses in early 1980s that ‘backbone’ of the insurgency in Manipur was smashed, following a series of successful military operations at Choro, Tekcham, Kadompokpi etc. then, things did become bigger in 1990s and the first decade of 21st century so much so that parts of Manipur were under the effective control of the rebel groups till recently…

I am aware that the circumstances have changed. Far more than the military action, it is the power of the lure and aspirations of neo-liberal economy, and its ever expanding aspiring class, their new found buying and consumption capacity, their culture of consumerism and fascination for malls-culture etc along with the culture of easy and quick money (contracts, percentage cuts, bribes etc) in the state which, in turn, is not unrelated to the political economy of counter-insurgency, that have eroded the appeal that the rebels (their ideologies) had/have on the people. Interestingly, there are enough signs to see that these aspects of the political economy have also affected the charcater of these rebels themselves.

But there are still these ideas, emotions, and sentiments associated with the idea of Manipur or Nagaland, however one might try to pit one against the other or subvert these ideas, these thoughts and emotions are likely to last (a little) longer than the life of an individual rebel or rebel group who/which can be killed/destroyed.

jingoism on Manipur hot pursuit

And most of those killed deep inside Myanmar are bound to be from that land called Manipur, people who had left their homes and families for the life in Jungle, rather than for Bangaluru or Delhi or London etc.. Whether one calls them ‘rebels’ or ‘insurgents’ or ‘naharols’ (as most Manipuri call them, literally meaning ‘youths’) or ‘terrorists’ as most Indians would prefer to call them, they are still the sons, daughters, brothers and sisters or friends of those people who live as citizens of this country just as those 18 soldiers who are also the husbands, sons and brothers etc…

So, where does this leave us???? May be the mourning of martyred soldiers and celebration of gallantry awards, and chest-thumping shout of ‘Dil Maange More’ for more bloods of Manipuris and Nagas etc (rebels/terrorists/supporters/sympathizers/suspected or whatever they may be termed) is not going to end that soon. And as for the people in Manipur, the cacophonic symphony of violence, estranged relations, easy money and percentage cuts, the lure and orgy of revelry of the life of being fed and frighten shall continue until the time they get some sense of and ability to grapple with what, how, when and why of their own life.

DGMO, the Government of India and the (National) Media said that Special Forces went into Myanmar and destroyed rebel camps and killed substantive number of rebels…

Just as the (National) Media in India went on euphoric narration, quoting sources and Minister to share a Hollywood style achievement of the Indian armed Forces, and for taking ‘revenge’ by killing Manipuri and Naga rebels, there comes the denial from Myanmar that Indian troopers entered into Myanmar’s territory…

Similarly, the rebels have contradicted some of the claims of the military and Govt of India as well…

First casualty in a war/conflict is truth, it is said; but why is that GoI and the (National) media, have acted this way?

Is it a reflection of contempt for a neighbouring country that you think play around or looks down upon, a country you don’t care what they feel? Because it’s no China or Pakistan for you?
Why do the media go on with file pictures and video the flying machine or training of troops as it narrates the fantastic story of a Navy Seal act by the troopers which reportedly attacked the rebel camps inside Myanmar? Why not the actual pictures or recording…flying machines do record when they fire the mounted guns????

Was it all a Bollywood moment for the melodramatic nation to sense its revengeful emotion of ’saa**, mein tera khun pijaunga’????

This reminds me…it seems popular and National Award winning film ’Mary Kom’ seems to have missed the awards at the celebrated IIFA Awards, this time held at Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia…all the top awards went to films like Queen, PK, Haider…